Thinking about setting up a VoIP PBX? Businesses looking to upgrade their voice communication system to VoIP usually have two choices – either purchase hosted VoIP services from a third party vendor or use an on-premise custom solution consisting of an IP PBX and SIP trunks. Creating a VoIP solution that works for a business organization is certainly possible with either of the two choices but they each have their own pros and cons.
Hosted VoIP PBX
Setting up a VoIP PBX is certainly easier with a hosted solution. Most organizations have to do nothing more than provide IP phones for their employees, optimize their data network for voice traffic and purchase/upgrade to high-speed Internet connections. The PBX is hosted in the cloud by the provider and there isn’t actually much for the client to do when it comes to set up.
The vast majority of IP phones can be configured on the network automatically and if you purchase phones from a recommended partner or manufacturer, the devices may even be plug-and-play. In this case, they are preconfigured for the particular network making them ideal for offices which need to configure hundreds of devices at a time.
Hosted VoIP is usually less hassle and particularly useful for organizations that do not have in-house VoIP expertise. All maintenance, upgrades, troubleshooting and bug fixing is undertaken by the vendor, freeing up precious time and resources for your company. Nevertheless this ease of use does come at the cost of customization and control. For instance, your business has no say in how often upgrades happen or when since these processes are under the control of the provider.
On-Premise VoIP PBX
If hosted VoIP is similar to Software As a Service (like say cloud backup or Gmail), on-premise VoIP is similar to the old school system where the organization owns and maintains their voice network. On-premise systems consist of IP phones, the data network and the IP PBX which may be connected to either PSTN lines or SIP trunks. Organizations can purchase turnkey solutions or opt for the DIY (do it yourself) alternative.
As opposed to hosted PBX solutions, the system offers more control and customization options that may be required by certain businesses. Although hosted vendors are continuously improving their portfolio and offering additional services, sometimes the company just needs a particular combination of features that is not available off the shelf. A company may opt for on-premise solutions in other circumstances as well.
For instance the organization may be working in a heavily regulated industry that handles sensitive and confidential data. Although the business may be technically allowed to utilize hosted solutions, there may be restrictions that make on-premise a more attractive option. For larger organizations, SIP trunking with an on-premise IP PBX makes more sense as the total cost of ownership is significantly less than hosted services. Additionally, the cost per call will be quite inexpensive particularly if the business has a high call volume.
Another important aspect is control over infrastructure, services and support. With an in-house solution, the organization has fine-grained control over the equipment, backup alternatives, redundancy and location. The company is in charge of upgrades and maintenance so that it can choose the precise combination of hardware and software that fulfill the business requirements. Updates can be delayed if there are more resources available or undertaken earlier than expected if the business needs new features.
Set up a VoIP PBX
There are many proprietary IP PBX solutions available in the market but some companies may opt to utilize open source software such as Asterix to build their own solution from scratch. It is a great solution if the business has experts who are familiar with the software and VoIP in general. It allows for even more flexibility, control and customization than proprietary solutions.
Since the software is open source, there is no need to purchase licenses or subscriptions. This makes it a good choice for businesses that don’t want or cannot spend thousands of dollars on commercially available systems. Because there is no cost associated with the software itself, the whole system can be set up quickly and cheaply. Creating a VoIP PBX with Asterix involves the following steps:
- Purchase and setup a server with the appropriate software. Asterix does not have steep system requirements, which means that it can be installed even on older hardware.
- Install the open source IP PBX software. Asterix comes in many forms and you can select the alternative that suits your business. One option may have a better interface or features that makes it suitable for you.
- Connect phone service with either PSTN or SIP trunking. If you need to connect to PSTN lines, a gateway is usually required and configuration can take a while. The most commonly used option is to connect with SIP trunks to an ITSP – Internet Telephony Service Provider.
- Set up phones. Asterix is based on the SIP protocol, means that most phones will work out of the box.