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Joined: Mar 2012
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I recently had someone ask me what non-cloud phone system I would recommend for a small, under 10 person company with no internet access--loop start trunks only. My answer was, of course, it really depends on what's available in your area and what kind of support you can get. But, it did get me thinking. I've been doing internal support for Avaya Aura and IP Office for my company for the last several years, and haven't really been working with small systems lately.

My first instinct was to suggest Panasonic, but it looks like they are about to no longer be an option (that really stinks). I know NEC still makes the SL2100. Avaya, of course, still makes IP Office, but that may be overkill for a 3x8. I checked Icon's website to see what Iwatsu is up to, and see that they are pushing an Alcatel cloud solution now. Vertical appears to now be a Mitel partner. Xblue is still selling the X16, although I have no experience with any of their products and hesitate to recommend them since they are selling direct as a do-it-yourself system. Toshiba made their big announcement just as I moved to the current company I am at. I'm running out of ideas.

Is it really only down to NEC for 3x8 or about that size systems? What else is out there?

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I just sold an NEC SL2100 to a very small office. Two loop start analog lines and four phones. They weren't interested in UC Suite, IM or any other neat software add-ons. They did go with IP phones, so they can work from home as needed. Don't know how much they will even use the auto attendant, but at least it's in there.

I also gave them a price on the SV9100 and explained what they would be gaining, but in the end, the 2100 will work for them at much less cost.

Perhaps the 2100 is overkill for this 2x4 office. But it's good stuff and as you say, not many to choose from.

Jim

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Times have changed. Phone guys are now IT people. With that said, we can join the move to the cloud or be left behind.

I know many do not want to move on to the cloud, but for now, it's a losing fight with the manufactures ending hardware systems.

With so much WFH, only Hosted systems will become cost effective,

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Vertical is still heavily marketing and supporting their Summit family of systems, with cabinet configurations starting out at 4 X 12 and digital phones in attractively-priced packages. As with any manufacturer, it's anyone's game as to where this industry is heading. Yes, Panasonic completely shocked me with their lame-ass excuse for bowing out of TDM systems, ONE MONTH after announcing a new line of digital phones and platforms that would make any KSU configuration rock.

I absolutely refuse to jump on the hosted bandwagon. I did this with Centrex back in the 80s and nearly put myself out of business with the repercussions. Unlike some of my comrades in this industry, I'm not in it for just the money. If all I'm doing is selling my customers a bill of goods that really isn't right in return for residual monthly revenue, then I should be ashamed of myself. Fortunately, I'm not too far off from retirement age and I'll be running like hell from this blasted industry as quickly as possible.


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I keep getting training emails from Vertical about the Summit. Is it any good compared to Avaya IP Office? And will there be a future working with it. Also what's involved with training.

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I'm not overly-happy with the cabinet design of the Summit. The small one (Summit 80) is a wall-mounted flat pack design that's fairly typical for small systems. With two cabinets, it can expand nicely, but it takes up a fair amount of dedicated wall space. The cabinets can only be about a foot or so apart and each one is about a foot square. All wiring is from the right side panel of the cabinets, so a decent amount of clear wall space must be left in order to see the connections. Two cabinets will end up requiring about 3' of wall height and 2' of width for a comfortable working environment.

The Summit 800 cabinets need to be rack mounted and are a bit cumbersome to interconnect in my opinion. They also can't be mounted directly to the wall unless you fasten the right side of the cabinet to the wall. They have to be accessible from the front AND back sides. This means that it sticks out about 20 inches! As we all know, dedicated wall space in closets is almost unheard of these days and the idea of room for a rack (wall mounted or free-standing) is a pipe dream. They (LG) designed this assuming that it would just be another piece of IT gear, since the IT guys usually get whatever amount of space they demand. A floor-mounted rack is perfect, since access to both sides of the cabinets can be accommodated. The cabinets for the Summit 800 are MUCH taller than the IP Office, about a foot high. Width and depth, they are about the same.

Programming is either through a phone or a GUI interface on the LAN. That part isn't too bad to pick up with most of the features being point and click to administer. It's really more of a learning issue with regard to terminology since each manufacturer's wording is different. The station cards are offered with 25 pair connectors, which I prefer, although I understand that they also make versions with modular plugs as well. I have never seen them.

Training isn't too intrusive. It is held at distributors' facilities, like Target Distributing, Hoosier Equipment, etc. They don't charge for it, but you have to provide your own transportation and lodging. Most classes are only a few days. They also offer lots of on-line courses, but I really think at least one hands-on course is necessary.

I'm not a huge fan of the product, but since our options are really starting to dwindle, beggars can't be choosers. Quality-wise, I have found the Summit to be good and solid. I've worked with them for about three years now and I don't recall any card or component failures.


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Ed,

The last Vertical product I really touched on a daily basis was the Wave IP system. Is the GUI improved over Wave's? I never really found Wave to be difficult, but I did find it frustrating. It seemed like there wasn't one central place to program everything. Some if was done using the Windows client. Other parts using the web interface. It was very scattered.

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We have had great success with the NEC 9100 after Toshiba went down the drain. For a very small office, we have found Univerge Blue to be a good fit. While hosted, it works (at least in our experience) and the apps provide the customers many option when they can't work from the office.

My experience has been that hosted or on-prem are good to have in the kit and a good sale is one in which the customer gets what they need.

One thing I have discovered with hosted is that while the MRC is nice, we still have to earn it through helping customers with administration, app use, and thinking out of the box for some things just like an on-prem system. I know a competitor that just sells the hosted, sits back, collects MRC, and does as little as possible to help a customer. We use that as an example for what we don't want to be.


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One system that we sell is the Emetrotel UCX. It is a premise IP system. We used to do Panasonic, but now we are looking into IP Office and NEC. But we are not all in on hosted simply because there are service areas we go to that don't have good enough internet to support a hosted system.


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I have gone to the Grandstream UCM for Loop start type customers. It is fully SIP compatible. Web Gui, Has built in voicemail, Auto Attendant, UCD, Conference bridge. When the Time comes the Phones can be used for Hosted, and the System will support SIP trunks.


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