Replacing old phone system
We have an 85+ phone setup spread over two buildings.
65+ digital phones on an old (now EOF'ed) Access system and 20+ VIOP phones on an Inter-Tel 5000.
Since the Access system is EOF'ed our vendor has a solution that would replace the Access but allow us to continue using all of our old digital phones.
I'd like to consider a Asterisk system, but I'm not sure if I should put that much risk on my company because I don't know it (though I know I can hire out the installation/management of it as I learn).
I've reached out to Digium, they quoted me $25K+ to replace everything I currently have with their drop in appliance, and this is before I consider any cabling that needs to be done to support phones in areas where I only have CAT3 or POE switches/power injectors/power bricks. Additionally, that costs about 4 times more than the conversion costs from my current vendor to stay with Inter-Tel. The costs of all of the new phones alone cost more than the entire conversion.
We don't have any problems with our phones at this time. We're only looking at moving because at some point parts will become difficult to acquire now that the manufacturer has stopped making/fixing them.
Thoughts on one direction or the other?
@Dashrender Elastix would be a good solution. VoIP calls would probably still be decent even over Cat3 although just wow...
NTG can help if you want. What kind of uptime is required? Need to know for DR planning, etc. How many total phone numbers? I believe Digium has a Asterisk backend on a lot of their systems but I may be thinking of someone else. But 25K is ludicrous.
$25K is for the whole solution - drop in appliance running Digium's version of Asterisk (Digium invented Asterisk, right? so everything they do is Asterisk based) and 85+ phones and PRI port support.
The average phones appear to cost around $150/ea so that's $13K+. I might be able to reuse all of my current Inter-Tel phones though, read a little - seams possible - so that could save me around $3k.
What kind of uptime - That's a great question, one the board never seams to be able to really put into words.
I approached them many years ago with the DR plan we had at the time for our EMR. The software was installed directly on the hardware. There was no onsite copy of the installation media, backups were via Backup Exec to tape. The DR plan required that the new server be setup with Windows, a remote connection to the vendor established then they would push down the software via the remote connection (4 gigs), after which the data would be restored from tape and configured on the new server. The vendor told us our downtime would be 4 days (this was extreme, but they promised nothing less). This 4 days of course didn't start until we had the replacement server in hand.
To my utter amazement, the BOD said 4 days was tolerable as they could revert to paper during this time.
After a few 20 min failures (of which none of them were our fault so a better DR plan wouldn't have mattered), they realized that they could not live with 4 days of outage and a new Dr plan using Replay to do image based backups was approved.
OK so I tell you this story so you understand where I'm coming from. We've never experienced a phone outage before (at least not a global one) that wasn't power related, so I feel that we don't know what our tolerance for outage is.
I know we've discussed it before and the use of cell phones in cases of emergencies was deemed an acceptable solution when the main phone system is down. If we had a building failure of some time, we'd contact the carrier and have them forward all of our calls to our answering service until we were back online.
Katie last edited by
In addition to Elastix, Shoretel is another system that is pretty good.
I am unsure what the implementation costs are with it, but I found it to be an easy system to learn and administer.
NetworkNerd last edited by NetworkNerd
Do you have specific must-haves in terms of PBX functionality that you would like to share? That would help determine whether something like Elastix / FreePBX / some other Asterisk system would work for you.
@dashrender That is certainly doable. I'm just thinking for failover, etc. We have people who have phones that can't go down. Ever. Others have a one-hour tolerance, two, four, etc. Higher need for little to no downtime will increase cost and complexity to varying degrees. $150/phone seems to be a bit high but it depends on what they're selling. Digium did NOT invent Elastix. It's an open-source product. How did management react to hearing a number like 25K?
NetworkNerd last edited by
I will also say that they make TVAs for the digital phones that you could use to connect them to a back-end Asterisk system without having to replace the phones or cabling right at first. Then you could replace as needed as you go.
@NetworkNerd What is the difference between a digital phone and a VoIP phone?
NetworkNerd last edited by
Digital phones do not have an ip address on the network and are going to require rj11 cables to them wherever they are located. It's an additional cabling need that is introduced that is not as nice as having everything ride your existing network cabling. They often have fewer features as well. For example, we used to have Avaya 5410 phones with our IP Offcie 406. The phones were easy to use and setup with the IP Office, but if we needed to put a new user somewhere that had no cabling for phones to it (though it likely had network cabling already), we'd have to pay for it. It's not as easy as throwing a switch in like with ethernet.
@NetworkNerd Agreed. Ok, so they still work on RJ-11s and not RJ-45s. Got it. I wasn't sure. Thanks for the explanation. So the NEC phone systems you see in retail, etc. Those are digital?
NetworkNerd last edited by NetworkNerd
I would say you cannot assume it as a general rule, but is possible: http://advancedtel.com/products/nec-ipdigital-phone-systems. Older NEC systems may be digital. We have one at a location for which I manage the phones and PBX...soon to be replaced with Elastix.
And it could be digital phones connected to a back end VOIP system like the one you see here. The phone system itself can be VOIP / digital / analog. The phones themselves could fall into one of those categories as well when we speak in general.
We are using ACD to move calls around to different hunt groups as the ACD dictates. Beyond that, we have Voicemail, about 30 DIDs and a 2 operator console. The operators have a software console that show them all of the phones in the system (these two buildings) and their status. They can also use the console to send calls to those users, change the users status, etc.
We don't have a specific conference ability beyond putting one call on hold and then calling another person on a different line (though a call in type conference bridge might be nice). The ability to give console access to more people would be nice as well (inter-tel wants something like $2500-$5k for each desk).
Dashrender last edited by Dashrender
How did management react to hearing a number like 25K?
They said, why are you even talking to me since we have a $6K solution from the current vendor? and no problems that we are trying to overcome.
@dashrender That is certainly doable. I'm just thinking for failover, etc. We have people who have phones that can't go down. Ever. Others have a one-hour tolerance, two, four, etc. Higher need for little to no downtime will increase cost and complexity to varying degrees. $150/phone seems to be a bit high but it depends on what they're selling. Digium did NOT invent Elastix. It's an open-source product.
I can't tell you because they don't know. If I ask them they will of course say - we can't afford any downtime, but we know that's simply not true. It would be better to present options like
To be reasonably sure we suffer only 5 mins of downtime will cost $20k
To be reasonably sure we suffer only 1 hour of downtime will cost $12k
To be reasonably sure we suffer only 4 hour of downtime will cost $6k
Then they can decide what level of risk they want.
As I said, they've already decided from a critical situation (think the surgical center) that they can use personal cell phones in case of an emergency. When it comes to patient's ability to call us, or us call them in non emergent situations, personally I think we could afford 4 hours without to much image damage. All calls could be routed to the answering service within 10 mins of the outage starting so the calls would not be simply ringing with no answer.
@Dashrender Let me ask you this:
Assuming you got all new phones, how many would you need?
Basic phone (make/take calls, transfer, hold, conference in):
Conference room phone:
What is your internal infrastructure like? Things like a hot/cold model could work if you don't need 99.9999% uptime with a VM locally and a failover in the colo or even a second local instance. Or an on-premise and cloud failover solution works too. Either way.
Let me say first that our current phone system has not backup DR solution - other than call the vendor. If the Inter-Tel 5000 dies, I grab my cell phone and call the vendor. They grab a 5000 off the shelve - a hopefully current version of our call processing and drive to my site and install the new unit. This costs us nothing until we use this option.
@ajstringham Let me get back to you with the count.
@dashrender I'm thinking for a VoIP system if you are replacing the backbone of th esystem, replace the phones. No point preserving ancient technology. Like trying to preserve XP. Waste of time and money. Just getting ideas.
@ajstringham The presented solution is as follows:
Replace the Digital switch with an Inter-Tel 5000 (VOIP) switch.
Connect a VOIP to digital gateway appliance that all of the current digital phones will plug into and work as normal.
We had a meeting with the vendor yesterday and the suggested that as digital phones die, we replace them with VOIP phones. I had to remind management that that would mean they would possibly need new wiring, and even if no new wiring, they would new POE/power injectors/power bricks for each VOIP phone put in. Frankly I was surprised I was told that was doable.