I am sure that at this point most of you have had some sort of experience with VOIP. My personal experiences are very mixed. On the Enterprise side I have worked on a multi-million dollar install of Cisco VOIP on a new all Cisco Network and it was less than spectacular. As a consultant I have worked with Cisco’s Call Manager Express in it’s home waters of the small/mid sized business and again I felt that it was lacking. However on the personal side I have been an off and on user of Skype for quite awhile as well as other come and go lightweight VOIP apps over the past seven or eight years.
Over all what it comes down to with VOIP, does it actually add value to move from legacy analog systems such as Centrex, PBX and Keys? From my experiences up till know the answer is no. Yes there are some benefits in the Enterprise arenas for Toll Bypass with large scale WANs. But when you consider the cost of tossing your legacy system and all of its phones in the garbage and replacing them with a brand new system plus phones that will be between $100 t0 $1500 each plus re-training your support staff and yearly support from the vendor this looks to be pretty painful. Add to that most systems are just marginally more manageable than their Analog predecessors. Yes they may have web interfaces but from what I have seen they are pretty crappy. So is there an answer? Quite possibly in a company by the name of Shoretel.
Starting in about 30 minutes I begin install and support engineer training for this company’s VOIP product. Actually Shoretel doesn’t have another product and from what I can tell thats a good thing for everyone involved because their VOIP system is everything you expect to find in a replacement for your 5 to 20 year old Analog system. I am going to try to get a few updates out throughout the week but we’ll have to see.