This is the fifth blog post of our 8 post series on the subject of Asterisk vs. Switchvox phone systems. Subscribe to our blog by submitting your email into the box on the right to receive an email notification for each blog post in the series.
Comparing the Implementation of Asterisk & Switchvox Business Communication Solutions
Now that we’ve compared the features of the Asterisk versus the Digium Switchvox, the next step is to compare the implementation process for the two systems.
In the case of the Asterisk, you need to spec out the hardware and software components and acquire them. You then need to assemble, load the components, and test to confirm that it all works properly and will provide a reliable business telephone system to your organization.
(If you would like to get into more detail about building an Asterisk PBX, read our Do It Yourself PBX blog post.)
The Digium Switchvox is typically sold as a turnkey solution by a value-added reseller. Digium provides an appliance pre-loaded with all of the software. The reseller provides consultation, integration, physical installation, and training.
How to Install a New Business Telephone System
The following are the tasks required to implement a typical business telephone system. TeleDynamic has been installing business telephone systems in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985, so we like to think we know what we are doing. In this article, we’ll go through the steps that we believe necessary for a quality business telephone system installation.
Step 1: Purchasing
Asterisk: You’ll need to purchase a server from your favorite hardware provider. If you are using legacy PRI or analog circuits, you’ll need to buy the cards or gateways to which they’ll physically connect. Popular providers are Digium, Sangoma, and AudiCodes. Lastly, you’ll have to purchase a support plan from Digium or a trusted third party Asterisk support provider.
Switchvox: Purchase a complete system, turnkey implementation, and packaged support from a trusted Switchvox reseller.
Step 2: Network Readiness
Asterisk: You are responsible for creating a voice-ready network. Pay special attention to firewalls and routers as they can be a challenge when handling voice.
Switchvox: The reseller partners with you to consult on the creation and testing of a VoIP-ready network.
Step 3: Scope of Work
Asterisk: You will be doing the implementation without an outside vendor so it’s up to management on whether they want to define a scope of work or just do the tasks as they roll out.
Switchvox: The vendor works with you to create a scope of work that defines tasks, resources, timelines and expected outcomes.
Step 4: Parts Assembly, Burn-In & Physical Installation
Asterisk: You complete this work
Switchvox: The reseller completes the work.
Step 5: SIP Trunk or Phone Circuit Ordering
Asterisk: You are in charge of seeking out competitive carriers, evaluating them, and then managing the paperwork and implementation
Switchvox: The reseller, being in the telecommunications business, makes recommendations based on price, quality and customer service. The reseller handles the paperwork and coordination activities.
Step 6: LNP (Local Number Porting)
Asterisk: If you are changing to a new telephone company provider, you are responsible for placing the LNP orders with the new carrier and managing the outgoing carrier(s). The NPAC (Number Portability Administration Center) publishes a helpful LNP best practices web page to aid you in this arcane process.
Switchvox: The customer signs a LOA (Letter of Agency), authorizing the reseller to act on their behalf and coordinate all LNP activities.
Step 7: Cabling
Asterisk: If any network cabling is required, you have to find cabling vendors, negotiate and then manage the winning vendor.
Switchvox: Reseller can provide cabling services.
Step 8: System Design
Asterisk: You need to discover the current call handling practices for all departments.Next is taking those current call handling scenarios and re-creating them in a new system. Asterisk’s “feature language” varies significantly from the language used by older PBX manufacturers, so expect to spend some time on translation. Additionally, many features just do not have a one-to-one correlation between systems.
Switchvox: The reseller has typically done hundreds of installations and can very efficiently assess current call handling and even more importantly, choose which combination of features is best to optimize your call handling needs. Best practices developed over many years allow the reseller to efficiently deliver a solution that requires little fine tuning or experimentation and the least amount of business interruption.
Step 9: Provision Telephones
Asterisk: Each telephone must be individually provisioned. The provisioning process is different for each SIP telephone manufacturer and with some providers, different for each model.
Switchvox: The reseller has likely created provisioning templates, has an automated process for provisioning telephones and knows the provisioning “tricks of the trade.”
Step 10: Cutover to New Business Telephone System
Asterisk: All of the phones will have to placed and tested in advance. The LNP will magically take place on the pre-ordained day and phones will then start ringing on your new system. Make sure to have the necessary resources to troubleshoot, do minor programming changes, and address end-user concerns.
Digium: Your reseller will have the necessary resources on-premise and support personnel in their office to manage LNP issues, re-programming, carrier interaction and end user needs.
Step 11: User & Admin Training
Asterisk: You need to provide the appropriate training resources.
Switchvox: The reseller can provide user training, admin training, and train-the-trainer classes.
What You Need to Know About an Asterisk vs Switchvox Business Phone System Installation
A quality IT staff with the proper Linux and Asterisk skills can download Asterisk software and build a quality business phone system. Depending upon how internal labor costs are allocated for projects, one might even save a decent amount of money.
The alternative is to choose the Digium Switchvox, a commercially developed, installation-ready telephone system, implemented by a telephony specialist reseller. In both instances, you get the benefits of an open source solution, including lower costs, rapidly developed software, and no proprietary lock-in.