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Switching to SIP: PBX Integration

Switching to SIP: PBX Integration

As techies who’ve lived and breathed IT for all of our professional lives, with a passion sparked back in middle school, we recognize that, as a breed, we have a weakness. Simply, we are easily seduced. Whether by gadgets, blinking lights, wearable devices, high definition, faster routers, or the newest phone, our curiosity, and enthusiasm often leave us vulnerable. Because, when it comes to technology, we want to believe. We also hunger for the latest and (supposedly) greatest, which is why on-premise PBX providers and network equipment manufacturers flood our mailboxes with catalogs and our inboxes with festive spam. They know the location of our Achilles heel and deliberately tantalize us with rack-mounted set-ups that promise us huge hard drives, multiple network interface cards, hundreds of extensions, and a boatload of features that, to be honest, are rarely used. The same is true for PBX integration

Do we really need to purchase all of this new infrastructure? Or have we reached the point where everything we desire—and the services we depend on—can be delivered and integrated into the PBX you’re currently using? Or a cloud-based PBX like 3CX?

The Tao of the IT Integrator

“Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units.” Fritjof Capra

As an IT integrator walks the halls of an office and examines the tools and services each department and colleague uses, their mind naturally defaults toward connection. How can we connect this tool with that service? Will a new PBX integration work with our CRM? And our predictive dialer? And our CMS for agents? How can we ensure that the information and data we’re collecting with every call doesn’t wind up in a disconnected silo?

New PBX systems are flush with call center-focused features, including voicemail to email, remote extensions, hold music, caller ID-based routing, real-time status monitoring, call detail records (CDR), and user portals. We could spend pages listing these value-adds. But the vast majority are service-side or software-fueled functions, so nearly everything these systems tout to attract your procurement dollars could be found in a comparable cloud-based PBX, like 3CX or FreePBX.

We’re agnostic on the question of on-premise vs. cloud-based IP-PBX—and have talked about it before—since there are sound reasons to support either flavor (our customers are fairly split on the issue). But, if you’re an IT integrator with a PBX blinking away in the corner that has clearly seen better days, or are adding new locations and want to eliminate hardware overhead, have you fully considered the upside of making a jump to the cloud for PBX integration?

The PBX Integration Cost Crackdown

Let’s say you’re helping to run a 20-agent call center, and you’ve identified that you need to be able to support 16 simultaneous calls. Let’s look at some common OpEx examples and compare them against a pairing of 3CX Pro and Voxtelesys.

If you want on-premise IP-PBX integration, you must consider your potential for growth, since you don’t want to be shopping for a larger IP-PBX in 12 months. You have many good choices to select from, with a wide variety of systems which fall within the $2000-$4500 range.

From an IT perspective, you also know that you’ll need to budget about 10% for maintenance costs annually. Plus, you’ll need service for these lines.

If you choose a cloud-based IP-PBX integration service like 3CX, you can choose a configuration that suits your current requirements, and scale up if/when the need arises. The annual pro license to support 16 simultaneous calls would be $879.

3CX vs. On-Premise PBX and Cloud-Hosted PBX

So, to begin, let’s look at the estimated cost for a standard on-premise PBX vs. a cloud-hosted PBX, using an unlimited SIP plan from a provider like RingCentral, Vonage, or Nextiva (this is a simplified average of multiple plans):

Purchase Price Maintenance Annual License Unlimited SIP Service First Year Total Cost
Standard On-Premise PBX $4000 $400 $7200 $11,600
Cloud-Hosted PBX $4800 $4800

For a new call center, you can see that the cost of an on-premise IP-PBX is significant (again, this is a first-year snapshot, so if your on-premise IP-PBX is a long-term investment, it might be more cost-effective).  What often jumps out is the cost savings that accompanies a move to SIP. But the savings in each of these arrangements comes with a hidden price:

  • It requires your business to employ their PBX software, giving you little or no flexibility.
  • And, if you choose an unlimited SIP plan, you may wind up wasting money on minutes you don’t

Let’s now look at the impact of a move to an open standards PBX platform like 3CX, coupled with SIP service from Voxtelesys and our PBX Plus 1 program. In PBX Plus 1, businesses only pay for the minutes they use each month ($1 per line, $1 per number, $0.01 per minute). In this example, we’ll calculate that the agents use an average of 750 minutes per month:

IP-PBX Average Cost
Nextiva, RingCentral, Vonage $4800
3CX Pro + Voxtelesys Plus 1 $3200

Take another look at the average on-premise PBX integration, with an unlimited SIP plan estimate and contrast it against the spend for 3CX with the Voxtelesys PBX Plus 1 number. This is over a 70% cost differential in the first year, while there’s barely a dime’s worth of difference between features and SIP service.  But even against leading cloud-hosted PBX plans offered by RingCentral, Vonage, and Nextiva, the 3CX Pro/Voxtelesys combination can offer you a roughly 30% savings.  Plus, it integrates with a large and growing number of applications and tools that businesses rely on, including Office365, Salesforce, ZenDesk, Exact, Nutshell, and others.

What Does Your Business Need Today?

Your journey towards finding the right IP-PBX integration and SIP service shouldn’t begin with a catalog in the mail. It should begin with a clear understanding of what your business needs to operate efficiently and profitably. This not only includes determining how much time your agents spend on the phone and what tools they rely on, but thinking hard about where the company will be in 6 months, 12 months, and further down the road.

It’s okay to want new toys from time to time, but only if you can rationally make the case that they will improve ROI. We would love to partner with you and help you find solutions that prepare you for the road ahead. If you’re ready to examine or re-examine your true SIP service needs, we’re ready to talk! Contact us today.