Software, complete system or hosted PBX?
VoIP solutions may be available as a software download, a complete solution with hardware or an online service. Which option is best for you, depends entirely on your situation. Let's have a look at the pro's and cons of each situation.
A software IP PBX solution is usually an application that you can buy or download from the web and install on your own hardware. Often, you have the possibility to try the software before you actually buy it. This offers a significant advantage over other solutions, as the cost is usually less than a complete hardware solution. A software IP PBX allows you the freedom to use your own hardware and maintain complete control.
Some computer experience is required to install the software, but this is usually relatively painless. Simply burn the software image to a recordable CD and install it on a dedicated hardware system. There is no pre-installed operating system required. With a software solution, you are responsible for the hardware maintenance and replacement parts. You can optionally plug in telephony cards to connecting your existing phone lines.
A hardware VoIP system allows you to easily connect existing telephone lines, without any technical knowledge required. Depending on your needs, the system is preconfigured with the required amount of ports for your setup. The main advantage of this solution is that you are buying both software and hardware from the same vendor and have a single point of contact for all your needs.
If you are looking for a hassle-free solution while maintaining complete control, a hardware solution may be a good choice, even though there's a slightly higher up-front investment cost and you'll have to be patient for it to be delivered.
Hosted PBX / Centrex
A hosted PBX or Centrex solution is a software solution running in a remote computer in a datacenter. This setup requires no hardware on site, you only need a broadband internet connection. The required bandwidth depends on the number of users on-site. A hosted solution requires zero maintenance and often allows you to select any Internet Telephone Service Provider (ITSP) you like for low outbound calling rates.
Because the solution is hosted on a remote location, you cannot connect your existing phone lines or phone numbers to this system. Your provider may offer you a selection of inbound phone numbers in different countries. You should take into account that this setup entirely depends on the reliability of your broadband connection. If that's not a problem, a hosted solution is an easy to use solution at a low monthly fee.
As you can see, each solution has its unique advantages. This article should provide you with enough information to take an informed decision. Try our fully functional free download or check out our live demo, and see for yourself.