Recommendations for 3CX (newbie)

Discussion in '3CX Phone System - General' started by hfournier, Feb 24, 2012.

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  1. hfournier

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    I'm going to be setting up 3CX (my first) for a client and I'm hoping to get advise/recommendations from those of you who've been around the block a few times. I've searched the forum for recommendations, but a lot of the posts I found were pretty old.

    It would be nice if the website had a product review section, so users could rate products they've actually used with 3CX.

    They have:
    4 PSTN + 1 fax
    Samsung PBX
    8 Samsung iDCS 28D phones
    Cable Internet (Shaw)
    Up to 25 Mbps download speed
    Up to 2.5 Mbps upload speed
    All new CAT6 cabling after complete office reno

    They will need:
    12 internal extensions
    2 remote extensions
    1 fax machine (MFP)

    They will be getting:
    New Dell T110 II server with Xeon E3-1220 3.10 GHz, Quad Core and 8GB running SBS 2011 Essentials (no Exchange/Sharepoint on premise)
    Office 365 for Professionals and Small Business (Exchange/SharePoint online)

    From what I've read, the server should be more than adequate for 3CX, right?

    I've also read that for smaller installations, a managed switch is not required. However, I'm looking at a 48-port gigabit (22 data jacks and 14 voice jacks, all CAT6) switch with PoE, so I'm guessing whatever I get will most likely be managed. Something like a Cisco SG200-50P or HP V1910-48G Switch (). Overkill? Suggestions?

    Gateway - this is where my lack of knowledge/experience becomes apparent. Do I connect the fax line to the gateway and use 3CX (integrated fax server?) or by pass it completely and hardwire it to the MFP jack? The monitored security system also uses this line. Or would I need a gateway with an FXS port for that? So, depending on that, I'll either need 8 or 4 FXO port gateway. Grandstream appear to be a lot less expensive than the others (less than half), but are they good? I read about static issues, but that was in 2008. Or just switch to SIP and not bother with a gateway at all. Suggestions much appreciated...

    Phones - Again, Grandstream seem very inexpensive by comparison, but are they good, or do you get what you paid for? What are the best phones? Which ones should be avoided? What are the key features to look for? This information is hard to find. I didn't find any websites with expert and/or user reviews for a lot of different phones (it would be nice to find that here on the 3CX site). Suggestions very much appreciated...

    I have to get this right the first time, so thanks in advance for any and all help.

    Henri
     
  2. jpillow

    jpillow Well-Known Member

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    The server you are going to use is way more than adequate a managed switch for 3cx would be a bit of over kill you could easily get by with a smart switch, which would still give you some management capabilities and PoE if desired. I'd keep the fax machine completely seperate. Although it works and just fine its always best to keep fax lines seperate (again just my personal preference with all VoIP solutions). Grandstream gateways work and are priced well however I'd definitely go with Patton, these particular gateways are a breeze to setup and support is excellent with Grandstream not so much. If you go with SIP you would eliminate the need for the gateway and the service would be less expensive just a decision you and your client will have to weigh the pros and cons depending on what everyone feels most comfortable with. We use SIP trunks in the office many of our clients are going with VoIP however quite a few are still using analog/digital lines (POTs, PRI). Finally handsets, we have Cisco's Yeahlinks, polycoms and grandstream, nd have used all at clients sites once again its just a preference I personally would go with Grandstream with every client if given the change great price, easy to use, and voice qulity is superb I definitely lead with Grandstream handsets. Polycoms are the cadillac's of ip phone so you could never go wrong there i use an IP 450.Hope this helps!
     
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  3. leejor

    leejor Well-Known Member

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    Go with anything you like, but i suggest you stick with hardware that is supported by 3CX, for the most trouble-free installation. As mentioned, it is best to keep the fax machine completely separate, otherwise it just throws a monkey-wrench into things. If (or the client) insists on running fax through 3CX, then both the gateway and the ATA, that the fax is attached to, must support T.38. Many gateways don't.
     
  4. lneblett

    lneblett Well-Known Member

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    I support the Grandstream, Yealink, Polycom, Aastra line of phones. Polycom certainly has "name", but my preference is Yealink followed by Grandstream. I have used Cisco as well, but my market tends to lean towards the others. Cisco and Polycom have the name brand recognition that commands a higher price. The only reason I lead with the Yealink is that they are perceived by my clients to be a little better looking and generally take up a little less desk space. I do like the new GS1450 however. The PnP feature is really making installation much easier.

    You may want to look into using a SIP Trunking provider and getting off of PSTN (as jpillow suggested) for the voice lines (keep the PSTN for the fax and share it with the alarm system). This will avert the need for a Gateway and there may be some cost savings for you and your client. Some will balk at converting from copper to internet cable, but it does represent an option. You may also consider looking at Shaw phone service via eMTA as this may be somewhat cheaper, yet still provides the PSTN look and feel. I assume the client has a fixed IP from Shaw. If not, this will help for the remote phones as you did not indicate how they will "phone home".

    The server seems fine. I am uncertain as to your plan with the phone relative to the network. By this I mean you are talkling about a 48 port PoE GB switch (managed at that). From your description, you seem to be indicating that you are going to have a separate line available for each phone and other data device. Keep in mind that most of the IP phones have a built-in switch so that you can have the phone and the computer on the same line (most also support VLAN if you elect that route). Further, GB capability on the built-in switch is generally found on the more expensive models in the various phone manufacturers' product lines. So perhaps you are either trying to preserve the computers' GB capability or planning for the future. Also, as jpillow suggested, You might consider a smart switch and getting a 24 port model that is stackable. As you apparently will be providing the switch, the idea of a stackable switch offers some level of protection in the event that a switch fails. By having the two, you could keep most of the business up and running on the remaining good one while a) the defective is being repaired/replaced and b) it will ease your expense by not having to stock a 48 port switch. You indicated 22 data ports, so I took that to mean all computers, routers, printers, etc. For a smaller installation, look at a Netgear gs724TPS switch. Modestly priced, GB, PoE and stackable using a HDMI cable which provides 20GB stcking bandwidth. It just doesn't get much easier than this for a small to medium size office. Finally, consider UPS needs for the network and system. Good luck.
     
  5. hfournier

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    Awesome! Thanks for all the feedback.

    Some clarifications...

    Yes, Shaw provides 1 static IP.

    Since they were doing a complete gut reno (to the studs), I installed 2 CAT6 drops with CAT6 jacks at every desk. They have a classroom area with only data jacks at those desks, which is why I have 22 data jacks and 14 voice jacks. All data runs are wired to a 24-port CAT6 patch panel. I currently have 8 of the 14 voice jacks punched down on the BIX panel. I will be installing another 24-port CAT6 patch panel and punching down all voice runs to that.

    They currently have an old Dell PowerConnect 24-port 10/100 switch (on loan from me) in place for all the data connections. I want to replace that with a gigabit switch. I thought of just getting a 48-port switch, but I like the suggestion of getting 2 stackable 24-port switches instead. If one fails, I can connect all the computers to the phones and run everything off of one switch. The recommended Netgear GS724TPS is "deactivated" at newegg.ca and not found at tigerdirect.ca and cdw.ca. insight.ca has 3 in stock for $861. Is it being discontinued? They also have the Cisco SGE2000P for $900. Which is better? The Netgear as "autovoice VLAN feature", but couldn't find anything similar in Cisco specs.

    I can get the Patton SN4114/JO/EUI 4FXO Gateway for $353, so that's not a whole lot more than the Grandstream. Their using Shaw phone now and the lines are only $35, so not a huge savings my siwtching to SIP. However, their long distance rate if $0.04 and $0.06 on the toll free. So there's potential savings there. I think they may go to SIP eventually, especially if they need more "lines", but I get the feeling they're more comfortable with keeping PSTN for now.

    Everyone seems to agree to keep fax/security separate, so I'll go with that.

    Finally, back to phones... Their policy is to always answer the phone. They currently don't even use v-mail. Yeah, they're writing phone messages down on paper slips. I'll be setting up v-mail and auto-attendant (for after hours only). So everyone needs to be able to answer any incoming calls. Given that, do they need phones with 4 SIP lines or just 4 (or more) line appearances? And, if they want to transfer a call to someone, do they need to program a line appearance for that vs dial extension vs something else? I'm a bit confused about how the IP phones work in general and with 3CX, which obviously makes phone selection rather difficult. I'm looking at the GXP2110, 2120 and GXP 2100, but unsure as to which is better for them. And what if they add more lines down the road? If you could set me straight on this or point me to an IP phone primer, it would be much appreciated.

    For remote users, do I just send out a pre-provisioned phone? Should it go through VPN tunnel or is that not necessary?

    Thanks again.
     
  6. leejor

    leejor Well-Known Member

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    If everyone need to be able to answer any incoming call, you might want to consider putting all extensions into one ring group. If you had sets with more than one appearance (line), of that persons extension then, if they want, they could put the current caller on hold and take a second call. Something that might happen if there was no one else in the office at the time.

    Some sets allow the transfer with one button, which works well for a small office/group. Otherwise it would just require the transfer button then dialling the extension. Some sets handle things a bit differently depending on whether it is a blind, or, attended transfer, which is something you might want to check into.
     
  7. lneblett

    lneblett Well-Known Member

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    With regard to the 724tps being discontinued, not that I know of. I just bought 4. I sort of forgot your are in Canada, but you might look at provantage.com in the States as they do ship to Canada, but no clue about duties, brokerage, taxes, etc. There is a $150 rebate as well, just look at the details to be sure how you may be able to work it. They have 101 showing to be in stock.

    For 2 remote phones, I would try just a native set-up with the appropriate firewall settings first, then the 3cx sip proxy and finally VPN. Of course, the company may require VPN to secure their business interest which then precludes the others.
     
  8. jpillow

    jpillow Well-Known Member

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    You can find the 724tps, also they have the FS728TP at telephonyware, they have "auto voice VLAN" simply add your mac addresses to the telephony OUI your switch will find those devices on the network and automatically add to the voice VLAN , and as a bonus are both better priced than the Cisco SGE2000P. Saving your customer some money and making you a bit more without sacrificing service.

    http://www.telephonyware.com/telephonyware/categories/smart-switches.html
     
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  9. hfournier

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    OK, I was able to find the switch at the same online store I was looking at for the Patton gateway and Grandstream phones, so I can get everything from one source (canadianvoipstore.com). Based on your comments, I'm recommending 1 GS724TPS and 1 GS724TS switch. I only need PoE on one switch, if it fails, all the phones come with power adapters. If either switch fails, I can use the ports on the phones to reduce the number of connections and still have everything connected using the remaining switch until a replacement arrives. That way I still get redundancy, but can save some bucks too. Make sense?

    One more newbie thing guys...

    If they have 4 PSTN lines, which I'm connecting with a Patton SN4114/JO/EUI 4FXO Gateway, do they need 4 line phones? For example, the GXP1450 is described as a 2-line SIP phone (Featuring 2-lines with 2 SIP accounts). My understanding is that that means you can only have 2 conversations going at any given time... say one on hold while talking to another. Is that correct? And, with no ongoing calls, if you pick up the receiver, can you grab any of the available 4 lines to dial out and answer any incoming calls? If they decide to add 2 more lines and go with SIP instead of PSTN, we're still good?
     
  10. jpillow

    jpillow Well-Known Member

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    You don't need four line phones, not many people have a need to be able to or even want to take four calls at once. However with that being said I sell 4,6 line phones all the time.
     
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  11. allteh

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    Also a first time installer

    I hope you all don’t mind if I jump in on this. The situation is very similar to mine. I’m also getting ready to do my first 3cx install. Back in one of the first comments, there was mention of pulling the ptsn line for alarm and fax prior to the fxo gateway device. (Forgive my terminology if its incorrect. I’m a network administrator teaming with some old school key system/hardware pbx guys) I have the patton 4114 already. We will only be using 2 of the ports on the 4114 at the beginning. The alarm functionality and faxing would be minimal, but necessary. Inbound faxing is handles through a web service, but the occasional outbound fax is needed. If one of the two either fax or alarm needs to pick and call out, can it do it if the line is not in use and not affect the patton after the process?
     
  12. mylove4life

    mylove4life New Member

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    Re: Also a first time installer

    most alarms can not go thru the VOIP system at all, they have to be hard wired. I'd ask the alarm people for sure...

     
  13. lneblett

    lneblett Well-Known Member

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    With regard to fax, alarm systems, credit card machines, postage meter heads and other devices using analog lines, the issue is that they use different types of protocols to communicate. The fax is likely a group iii which may use t4, t30 and other protocols developed specifically for the fax environment. The others may use x.25 which is again a protocol developed for data transmission. They are typically rate adaptable so as to accommodate a variety of line conditions associated to the audio realm. They are not digitized and encapsulated with data packets as tcp/ip and as a result do not have the resistance to issues that arise with data transmission such as jitter, latency and dropped packets.

    Regardless, it is possible to take the analog and do a conversion into one of the various codecs used in the VoIP/FoIP realm, but the chances of getting a seamless, trouble free connection is problematic at best and even if working today, no guarantee about tomorrow as the carriers handle ever increasing loads of traffic. The industry does try to overcome some of the issues with the use of jitter buffers, echo cancellers and other solutions, but there is a lot of variability and it may prove frustrating trying to capture the right settings.

    With fax, you can improve your odds by using t38 which is a codec specific to FoIP, but you need to ensure that the gateway, carrier, PBX, and/or ata all support it. some have gotten very lucky and had success with faxing on devices that allow pass-thru and I envy them. It is a hit or miss proposition which is why most of us would rather the client keep their current fax line as is.

    On alarms, there may be the issue of what type and whether it is supervised. Supervised meaning that the alarm company actively monitors the connections so as to be able to discern trouble conditions or if the line may have been cut. There are some internet style interfaces, but very expensive and i have yet to find an alarm compny that endorses or even knows how they would incorprate into their existing analog world. Go cellular, or share with fax. Credit card and postal, go Internet as they likely have alternative connection methods going through a local computer.
     
  14. leejor

    leejor Well-Known Member

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    Unless you have an alarm company that says otherwise, you should be connecting it to an analogue line. This line can also be shared with your fax machine, that can save a lot of headaches trying to get fax over IP working as well as helping justify the cost of the phone line. Alarm systems are usually plugged into the phone line ahead of any other device, using a special socket. If unplugged, the line connects through as normal. When the alarm system has to seize the phone line, it will cut off any other device "downstream" of the socket. The alarm companies generally access the system by calling once, letting it ring once or twice, hanging up, then calling back. That modem tone throws people off if they don't understand what's happening.
     
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