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Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?
3

Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
I've been handed the task of purchasing a new phone system for our office.  
We are currently a 30 person office planning to open another site that'll have maybe 4 phone systems.  
From poking around with local vendors, I've come down to the following packages.

One company is offering us:
Avaya IP Office 406
Expansion modules (terminal modules, phones, etc)
Voicemail Pro, etc.

Another is offering:

Toshiba CTX setup
modules, voicemail, etc.

And the last company we are considering is offering:

A Inter-Tel setup.
modules, voicemail, etc.

The prices all come out around the same, so price isn't really an issue.  Our main concern is picking a good solid phone system that'll have a upgradable and long life ahead of it, while being easy to maintain.  I know I didn't give a lot of details but the area of phones is a bit gray to me and I've only begun the search.  I hope that you guys can help guide me in this purchase decision..

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

The Avaya product obsoletes the old Avaya product.  Avaya didn't figure on supporting the expanding the existing partner base, and just selling everyone new.  Its a concept I don't like.

The Inter-tel system adopted IP into the existing platform.  This is my recommendation.  Its a strong telephony system.

I don't see Toshiba around here much

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Thanks a lot for the reply.  Your advice on the Avaya is exactly the kinda information I was looking for.  I'd rather not do business with a company that is bent on selling you a whole new system instead of having a forward future built system.

I'm going to a meeting tomorrow at one of our vendors to check out the inter-tel setup.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I have to agree with your choice on the Avaya product lifecycles, however I've had great success with the installed product.  We use several merlin systems wich have a degree of upgradability, and their easy to program too boot.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
I went to 2 meetings today.  One was to check out the Inter-Tel setup.  It was impressive but they didn't have any full exchange features setup to show us some of the vmb/fax integration.

The second one was to check out the Toshiba product (teamed up with a Callware VMB).  While they don't have a VoIP solution yet (the module comes out in December) they do have a setup that'll work for setting up home offices, which gives full phone functionality.

Monday I check out the Avaya setup.

Question: When looking at vendors, how concerned should I be with how I percieve the sales person's technical knowledge?  What about the size of the service force?

Also if anyone wants to comment on any of the systems I could use any links or opinions ya got.

Thanks a lot for the help so far.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Interesting questions regarding salespeoples' technical knowledge!

IMHO, Salespeople shouldn't be let out alone without a good feature knowledge.  They exist to sell and not to implement, but as their implementation knowledge is often lacking.  The sales team should have two people - sales manager and sales engineer.  The sales engineer should have all the techy stuff for the IT/Telecomms dept and the sales manager should talk to managers / leaders etc.

In short, when asked a technical question, if they try and bull**it you you should be worried, if they admit they don't know, but will confirm with their technical dept (and do) you might be OK!

As for the size of their service force: it really depends on the SLA you wish to implement.  They may have 1 guy covering the whole of the USA, but offer a SLA of 1 month response time (Extreme I know).  Probably more important ( and measureable) is what their staff turnover is.  Again, find out wheter implementation is done by the support or a dedicated implentanation team.  Finally, find out if you can rely on getting a single person dealing with you on site, they will get to know the site and peculiarities(spelling??) which helps!

Just my rambling thoughts...

Matt

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I vote for Inter Tel. I think that they have great features available, especially IP phones and networking so you can have 1000 plus ports.  My dad works for a company that sells all kinds of phone systems but Inter-Tel is by far the one they sell the most. BTW,what city are you in? (Just wondering)

Jeff Moss
Warwick Communications, Inc
jeffmoss26@adelphia.net

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
I'm in Portland Oregon.  Thanks for the input on the Inter-Tel.  Anyone know how the Inter-Tel is on the administration side?

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

by administration, do you mean programming and software? i know that their database programming is very good and so is AXXESSORY talk.  If you need more in depth info, let me know.

Jeff Moss
Warwick Communications, Inc

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Yeah basically how is it for someone who is the Network admin but is used to admining computers not phone systems (I don't mind learning).  From what I've seen everything looks pretty intuitive.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

im not totally sure, but there is so much that is integrated with computers. Since i dont work with the programming side i dont know 100% but ill look into it.
will the vendor be installing the system and programming it? installation for AXXESS is not exactly easy, the manual is about 6" thick.

Jeff Moss
Warwick Communications, Inc
jeffmoss26@adelphia.net

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Yes, a requirement from all our vendors is that they install, provide some sort of training for me and provide future support (if at a cost, that is fine) down the road.

I check out the Avaya system this Thursday and then it is time for the elimination rounds. =)

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Nortel has a VOIP system called the BCM, but I agree with the others I like the Inter-Tel product line.Inter-Tel has a lot of different options on type of system. Full IP or a legacy system with VOIP capabilities. Good Luck!!

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I second the Inter-Tel system for such small office, unless you find a PCPBX...

As for not having VoIP immediately with the Toshiba is not such a terrible problem.  VoIP should be independent from the switch as far as I am concerned because the miriad of incompetabilities.  I use gateways instead.

Inter-Tel's software to manage the system is quite simple despite the thick manual.  If you have some LAN management experience, you will muddle through even without the manual.  I love Inter-Tel's use of wiring.  They do not use the center pair, which allows you to connect both the Inter-Tel telephone and a modem/fax to the same wiring.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Right now I'm pitting the Avaya and the Inter-Tel together.  I dropped the Toshiba from my considerations because it seems like Toshiba as a company focuses on more than just phone systems.  Infact I could see them one day dropping or reducing the support for their phone line and focusing more on another of their product line.  (someone please correct me if my assumption is wrong).

Anyone give me some pros and cons on the Avaya vs the Inter-Tel?


Again, Thanks a million..

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

You asked for Pros and Cons, here are some:
Ease of use, price, and installation are pros with Inter-Tel.  However, Avaya sells a wireless solution for their systems, most of their systems are easily expandable, and they have many more dealers.  Neither system is cheap, though.

Jeff Moss
Warwick Communications, Inc
warwickcomm1@yahoo.com

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Of course you could just buy a few cPCI cards, a decent chasis, load a good software, and make your own for a fraction of the off-the-shelf cost.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
I normally am a do it yourself type guy but in a business environment, going with a name brand prebuilt system is important for future support (and important for keeping the upper brass happy).  

If I where to quit, die, move on, the company would be left trying to find a replacement who knows the homebrewed system.  Not that it wouldn't be possible but from a business perspective I think it is a unnecessary risk.

I'm not the only one making decisions here, the upper brass has a lot of say in this, they do control my budget and salary after all.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I have to say you are ABSOLUTLY right on not going the home made, patch it together yourself route.

I'm not that familiar with the IP Office or the Inter Tel, but from what I know about Avaya I that they would not bring a system to the market that would obsolete their current install base.

So just sit down and look at:
- price
- features and functions
- growth and investment protection
- market share (and here I mean would you be able to switch from one dealer to another if you wanted too)
- allways try to get a visit to a site your supplier installed and talk to customers.

And goodluck.........

Please let me know if the information that was provided is helpfull.
Edwin Plat
A.K.A. Europe

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
We purchased the Avaya ip office which ended up being a nightmare, so our vendor swapped us over to a Merlin Magix which we are finishing up the install on today.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

So what were the major points of failure with the Avaya install?  I have been putting off my VP and CFO saying the products are still too unreliable. That excuse is getting old.
Plus I am a little more interested in the Cisco solution, if only to expand my experience/knowledge beyond Avaya.

THanks!

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

If you are going VOIP look at Mitel  www.mitel.com  Unlike the others they didn't reinvent the wheel they made it better.

Just my 2 cents in a tight economy.


Happy hunting and "Happy Holidays"


Zig

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Nortel has the Norstar Key System and if you want more power and VOIP they have the Option 11c. Nortel has been around since 1975 and there systems are upgradable, you don't have to buy a new system if you outgrow the one you have. there service is available world wide.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Do yourself a favor and go to www.esi-estech.com and look at the IVX128+. We have 4 offices in our state and we dial a link on our intercom for another office and we are on there system's intercom and dial the extension# of the person we are looking for. We don't have to dial them through dial tones. This is called esilink. You can also have remote phones. This is by far the best system out there that I've seen in my 21 years of telecom experience!!!

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

i am an avaya dealer - the IP office is not ready yet - there are still glitches that are typical in early releases of a new product - i have heard of other installs that got yanked out and replaced by the magix system - salesman's knowledge shouldnt matter too much - get the owner or service manager out to get a good handle on service and business philosophy etc. - too often the customer puts too much emphasis on the system and not the vendor - we have competitors who go in dirt cheap, get the deal and then are very difficult to deal with - make sure the systems do what you need then choose the best vendor!

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Have you looked at the Cisco CallManager VoIP solution?  We have it here and love it.  It works great with Exchange, is all web configurable, the phones run XML, the VM is great and we haven't had a problem yet.  Cisco is also what most companies use on their data side so it integrates well with the powered ethernet switches and the routers (QoS).

Tom

Tom Bilan
TJBA, Inc.
CCNP, CCDA, MCSE, CNE, CCA, ASE

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I'm surprised nobody has even mentioned the Panasonic system in this thread, can I have an opinion, please?.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

NEC is great & has a system to fit all businesses, unlike Avaya, its IP system is rolling out the door.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Too bad people are always trying to trash equipment from other suppliers.
Although I will go as far as thinking that the NEC system would be a good solution I woould like to say that the Avaya IP solutions are well working an tested.

Any one can see the info on the following link:

http://www1.avaya.com/enterprise/solutions/convergence/eclips/

Please let me know if the information that was provided is helpfull.
Edwin Plat
A.K.A. Europe

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Europe: Sorry that crow won't caw..  We "had" an Avaya IP Office and it really is not ready for the American market in the form they have released it.  We ended up ripped it back out and replacing it.  Wasting a lot of our time, resources and money.

Looks like it may be really good in a bout a year but waiting around a year with a dinky phone is a long time for a business.  We had to let it go..

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

EOD,

I don't know about the IP office, but the ECLIPS link I put up all is about the DEFINITY product line, which is a US product. (The IP Office stuff is UK development)
So that is where I came from, and the DEFINITY is a stable working.... also the VoIP stuff.

Like I said I can not give a statement on the IP Office, but the DEFINITY product line I know well and I know peopke arround the globe are happy with that solution. TDM and VoIP architecture.
I just commented because in my opinion it goes a little bit to far to say all Avaya kits don't work well...

Please let me know if the information that was provided is helpfull.
Edwin Plat
A.K.A. Europe

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I am a NEC/Nortel vendor.I think that the new BCM 3.0 with VoIP/VPN capabilities could be a great choice

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Eod,
Did you decide on a phone company/package of late?
We use an Inter-tel Axxess system here at the Non-profit I work for, but we are still using an old version of their software; 5.0-06.
The programming database uses the Windows platform. The Accessory Talk module(voicemail) uses the same programming/database interface. All in all it has a fairly intuitive interface from a "Network Administrator" point of view, once the initial telephone system is set up.
We are using an NT 4.0 workstation to run the software database & voicemail applications. We have a total-lease agreement with Inter-tel Inc. and it is working out thus far.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will try to answer you to the best of my ability.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Korenja: During the mess of the refund and what not we decided to stick with the same vendor and that meant staying with Avaya.  We ended up with a Merlin Magix.

During the time of the refund I was pushing for a full $$$ back refund and switching over to Inter-Tel.  Now we are stuck with the Magix..  Oh well, it is just a phone system, atleast I keep our servers rocking. :)

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

We have been installing the IP office for ove 12 months in the uk we have over 120 IP office sites & other 250 Alchemys (the predecessor to the IP Office) with very few "problems" most of wich are resolved remotley (90%+), however it does need a degree of experience.

It has a verry simple user Interface & is fery simple to configure, somtimes deceptivly simple which can cause problems.
Invalid characters in user names are sepecialy problematic (& / - *)

A competent maintaier/installer should not suffer with these problems

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I would highly recommend Nortel for your phone system. I am a technician for Nortel, Fujitsu & NEC. I would suggest the BCM if you are running on a tight bugdet (as most of us are). For around 25k you get everything. It comes with Nortel's next generation voicemail (Call Pilot) which has the capability for Fax and speech recognition (if purchased). Also it has the capabilty for email integration. It is very easy to program (GUI interface) from your web browser. It has VOIP capability both trunk and line side (as in trunking between sites or out to individual IP phones, on a per port basis). It is an all-in-one solution for the small office. It will expand upto approx. 150 users. This product is well proven. If you would like to discuss this system with a technician and not a salesman, let me know.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

What are Ericssons offerings like in the US?  I'm an Ericsson Md110 Engineer in the UK and it is a wonderfull, versatile and reliable switch.

It's feature rich, highly compatible with other exchanges and signalling systems and is easy to maintain.  Ericsson have always offered the best upgrade paths, ie: cabinets designed and made in the 1970's/80's can still be used with todays latest software without losing features.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Wow, this thread is 1 year old today.  I hope EOD has a good system in by now.

MarvO said it

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Marv01: I still watch this thread from time to time.  We got a phone system but ended up getting a System we didn't want.  We now have a Merlin Magix, which is ok, but seems like extremely dated technology.  The Avaya IP Office was a complete disaster but I heard that the new firmware upgrades fixed a lot of the issues.  Oh well, the upper brass here couldn't stand it.

In the end, I wish we would of got a Inter-tel setup.  Whenever I have to work on the phone system I kick myself for not pushing management harder to get the Inter-tel over the Avaya solutions.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Eod,
I wish your experience would have been a good one.  I am a very strong Nortel fan.  The quality cannot be beat, but that is just another opinion.  Everyone will try to sell you on their pet product.
I was just kind of amazed when I saw the 1 year birthday of this thread.
Best of luck!

MarvO said it

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

I don't sell them, but I really like the Mitel System. It has been out a while and they have had more time to perfect it than most.

Shoreline is an OK product but not widely installed or supported yet. Proof will be in the pudding. We will see how the client Matt installed for us feels after we reach the 6 month window...

Hi Matt!

Just having fun with ya...

lmcneill@rx-tech.com

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Thanks,

Matt Wray
MCSE, MCSA, MCP, CCNA

www.sss-steel.com

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

Inter-Tel VOIP Axxess experience requested ?
Thread461-640232

Thank you - Dave Y

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

EOD
My biased opinion is to go with the Axxess
I will answer several of the issues that have come up in this thread.

1.Inter-tel is on of the pioneers in VOIP ,way before the others started Inter-tel had a VOIP VOFRAME product out.
Inter-tel gives you great functioning IP boxes and recently added SIP capability to its Voip capabilities.The system is based on a TRULY open architecture and maintains proven Telecom reliability but adds through CTI or OAI a plethora of options.

2.Inter-tel Axxess currently can grow from a 64 port system to over 20 nodes of 1000 ports each.Its voicemail can be networked with other nodes or one central voicemail can be used by several nodes .

3.As far as administration Avaya and most others are light years behind..the definity is still using a Dos Windows interface which is only a glorified terminal .The Axxess GUI is windows based and you can programme the system via serial(direct),modem,or IP.The complete programming manual is included in the context sensitive help mode.One other interesting feature is the ability to create and programme a database on your Hard drive and then upload the new software to the PBX.Backing up a database is a simple task for anyone with PC experience and as long as you back up on a regular basis ,you will never lose time trying to reenter a DB.

If you do choose the Axxess with VOIP I would recommend the IPSLA in most cases because it gives you an analog ext over IP which can be shared by several people or even wired into another system as an IP OPX instead of the IP Exec Terminal which althoug it looks great can only exist in one physical location

Hope this helps,best of luck

Axxessman

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

(OP)
Axxessman if you read a little more of the thread you'll see due to the strange upperbrass politics of my company we ended up going with the Avaya IP Office which turned out to be a total nightmare, so our vendor switched us to a Merlin Magix.

I hate the Magix almost as much as I hated the IP Office.  My suggestion the whole time was to go with Inter-tel.  :(

Now I'm the one stuck with this outdated thing.

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

EOD , I would be verry interested in knowing what problems you had with the IPO, We find most instalations go without a hitch but have taken over some sites that have been appaling.
these have invariably been due to a poor understanding of the syetm by the installer.
I realise that you have now changed system but i would be a shame to give a system a poor reputation because of a poor quality installer

RE: Buying new phone system. Here are my options.. Opinions?

     I grew a beard while reading this thread,time to shave LOL

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