The benefits of a software PBX
Why your next Phone System should be software based and running on a mainstream operating system
This whitepaper explains the benefits of having a software based phone system. Why it makes sense to move away from proprietary solutions and straight to a real software based solution running on a mainstream, commercially supported operating system.
The PBX business is clearly fast asleep…
You don’t need a time machine in the traditional PBX vendor world. The phone system of 1970 is the phone system of today. They look and do almost the same. This is very different from what has been happening in the IT business over the last 40 years, where we have seen lots of progress and a reduction in cost.
Clearly the PBX business has a lot to catch up on. It desperately needs to innovate, and it is software solutions that can make that happen.
Software based PBX
The lack of progress and innovation in the PBX industry has been largely caused by the fact that the traditional PBXs run on a proprietary and limited operating system, which has only archaic development tools. A software PBX will leverage the latest operating system features and modern development environments, allowing developers to reuse features in the operating system and quickly add new functionalities to the PBX.
A PBX must run on a mainstream OS, not an appliance
A key point is that a software PBX must run on a mainstream operating system that is commercially supported and maintained, guaranteeing regular OS updates supporting the latest hardware, and most importantly security updates for vulnerabilities found. Administrators need to get away from black boxes and take control of their phone system.
Windows or Linux?
The choice of Windows or Linux will largely depend on your IT infrastructure and the experience of your administrations. Clearly your PBX should not demand additional skills from your team or require you to buy additional hardware or support agreements with operating system vendors.
If your IT department relies on Windows and knows Windows, choose a Windows based solution. If you use Linux, then a Linux solution will suit you best. Do not let the PBX features or price override your choice of operating system. Your PBX should be just another server application, which can be run on the same servers and with the same network management tools that you use today. There should be no need to learn a new black box.
Key considerations why you must go for a mainstream operating system that you know:
Applying OS patches
Operating systems need to have patches applied on a regular basis. If administrators have chosen a PBX that runs on an operating system they are familiar with then they will be able to easily apply these patches. Windows administrators will struggle to apply sometimes problematic Linux patches.
Beware of appliances based on obscure/custom versions Linux and bundles in the open source PBX. These custom versions of Linux do not receive regular security patches, leaving your phone system vulnerable to attack.
Upgrading is easier
Upgrading to a new version of your PBX is a simple process if you are familiar with the underlying operating system: Upgrades will be done in a matter of 5 to 10 minutes.
Fault tolerance through easy backup of your PBX
Software based also means that you can easily backup your whole PBX. In the event of a hardware failure, you can restore your phone system on to another machine in a matter of minutes using the inbuilt backup function. If you are running your PBX virtually, you can use the Hyper V or VMware Backup function to save a complete copy of your PBX to disk.
If you are running a proprietary black box solution or a hardware appliance PBX, you will be without a PBX until you can get a physical replacement which will probably require reconfiguration.
Leverage your existing server hardware
Because modern servers have ample processing power, a software based PBX can run on an existing server with other applications, saving on hardware cost, energy consumption and administration costs. No need for a dedicated machine or a low performance appliance. Optionally, using Hyper V or VMware you can also virtualize your PBX and separate it from other apps, without requiring a separate server.
Low resource usage
Modern day hardware can easily support PBX hardware requirements. The table below shows the processor and memory usage of a busy Windows Server for handling 16 continuous calls: Low processor and memory usage means it can be run safely on an existing Windows server that is running other applications.
Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, E 4500 @ 2.20 GHz, 4
Gb of RAM, 50 Gb Hard disk SATA and a
100Mbps Network connection
Windows Server 2012 R2
Other applications installed
IIS, Exchange Server and Active Directory
Simulated Exchange load (using Exchange Load
25 users making heavy use of Exchange (Sending mail, scheduling meetings, checking inbox etc)
Processor time used by Exchange Server
3CX Phone System
3CX simulated call load
16 simultaneous calls continuously.
0.5 calls/second equalling 2000 calls per hour.
Processor usage of all 3CX Services
Less than 15% CPU.
Total Memory usage of all 3CX services
Peak processor usage
Alternatively you can run your PBX as a virtual instance using HyperV or Vmware. Hyper V or VMware are great virtualization platforms with superior I/O performance which allow you to virtualize your PBX, even for larger installations.
Easy to scale
Because your PBX is running on a modern server, it’s easy to scale compared to a traditional PBX or an appliance. Modern server hardware will allow you to add almost unlimited extensions, lines and functions because servers have ample processing power.
Appliances on the other hand are limited by the number of telephony ports and by their limited processing power and memory. Your appliance will run out of steam as soon as you start adding more lines, phones, and making use of more processor intensive functions such as conferencing. Before you know it you will need to discard your old appliance and buy a new ‘bigger’ appliance.
On Site support and replacements
An important advantage is that you can work with a leading server hardware vendor of your choice. Dell, HP, IBM/Lenovo and other server vendors offer the best server hardware at reasonable prices and with worldwide on site support. This is not the case with PBX appliances from smaller vendors can they offer worldwide service and replacements within certain time frames?
Easy Integration with other applications
Another major advantage of a software based PBX is that it integrates easily with your other business applications and uses the same API’s. It’s no longer a black box sitting in the corner refusing to talk to the rest of your applications. And with this integration we can gain features and thus productivity. For example:
Integrate with CRM system or Database
A Software PBX will easily talk to other systems such as the crm, mail or database server and greatly improve productivity and customer service. Match a caller ID to a customer and know who is calling. Automatically log calls with customers for reporting and customer service purposes.
Integrate with your User Directory
Software based PBX will allow you to connect with your User Directory of choice, be it LDAP or Active Directory. Ensure that user data is not duplicated and always up to date, saving valuable administration time and ensuring user data is correct and synchronised.
A software based PBX delivers great advantages to your company, providing you go for a PBX running on an operating system you know. It will offer you:
● Easy installation & management
● Ability to leverage your existing Server Hardware
● Fault tolerance via easy backup and restore
● Integration with your existing business apps
3CX is an international developer of telecommunications software, headquartered in Europe with offices in the UK, USA, Germany, Cyprus, Malta, Australia and Hong Kong. It is a Microsoft Gold Certified partner and is backed by an experienced management and development team. Its product, 3CX Phone System for Windows, has earned Windows Server 2003 Certification and has received numerous awards, including The Windowsnetworking.com Gold Award, the Communications Solutions 2007 Award, the Windows IT Pro magazine 2008 Editor’s Best Award and a Best Buy Award by Computer Shopper Magazine, all in recognition to the company’s commitment to innovation and quality.