October 23, 2014

VOIP Advice requested

As one of my last posts about issues with hosting provider got great response and We got a lot of good advice and offers I decided to ask for advice another problem we have as we’re growing our company – organizing good phone communications.

Our goals are rather simple though the fact we’re globally distributed may put us a bit aside from typical small business needs.

Normal Phone Line We’re looking to get normal business phone line which would be routed to me and Vadim withing our normal business hours and voicemail outside of them. The same line could offer extensions to reach other team members plus. Plus we’d like to get direct numbers for me and Vadim at least so people do not have to pass through choice system each time. And Yes… Voicemail should be sent by email so it is easy to read it. We would like to keep using normal phones for this kind of service, while being able to use software or hardware VOIP calls for dial out. Phone conferencing features would be good to have to add people to the line.

Emergency Phone Line Providing Emergency Support to our clients we need to put better systems in place. Gurrently we give away few land lines and mobile numbers to reach us and it works well but does not look professional and neither scales as we get more people. We would like instead to get On Call schedule so calls are automatically routed to this person land and mobile numbers and if he does not replies in time followed escalation procedure to get at least anyone to the phone. The alternative is of course to use external on call center and make them to take the callers number reach someone and make him to call back, but I do not like this. From my personal experience if I have an issue I want to get to someone who can help rather than promise for someone to call back.

Of course both lines should be multi-line ie “never busy” and phone numbers should be ours so we can switch solutions while keeping phone numbers.

We considered two ways to implement it. First one is to use Asterisk or some derivatives as TrixBox. This way is flexible and geeky while I do not think we want to get into all aspects to get it usable as business critical solution.

The other one is to use a hosted service so we do not need to support solution ourselves and can simplify setup. However this means this someone should be good both in providing great service quality – uptime, call quality for international calls, support and flexible enough to accomodate our needs.

Any advice you could give us on this topic ?

About Peter Zaitsev

Peter managed the High Performance Group within MySQL until 2006, when he founded Percona. Peter has a Master's Degree in Computer Science and is an expert in database kernels, computer hardware, and application scaling.

Comments

  1. Brian Aker says:

    Hi!

    If you are going to be in Heidelberg I can sit down with you and explain the basics of setting up what you need with Asterisk.

    Cheers,
    -Brian

  2. Troy says:

    Asterisk is powerful, but it is a lot of work to get everything just right. We still have some echo issues with polycom phones, but at the end of the day we are in control of how our phone system works, and exactly what it does. I contacted several VOIP hosting companies and at our size, I could not find a single one that made me feel like we were important to them.

    Troy

  3. zen says:

    Hi,
    Asterisk seems to be the only option, and more important to you, it can grow with your company easily.
    Re VoIP providers, it’s not really customer service problem. Just chooose one with good quality and availability. After all, you can still use your landline with Asterisk for incoming connections (with some hardware support).

  4. Michael says:

    We’re using packet8 for the business lines, and then using angel.com for our emergency paging. A customer can dial our number, and then an emergency extension, and it goes to the on-call engineers pager via email.

    Quite useful.

  5. Personally I would do it this way:

    I would use kall8.com for what you describe. They can do the PBX stuff that you want (Follow Me, scheduling, escalation, voicemail, and a bunch of other things).

    They have a pretty sweet feature for the forwarding, where you can pick how and to who calls are routed. For example, you could have your big clients provide you with a phone number, and when they call from that number it can be routed directly to you so they don’t go through the on call person or you can do some other action with it.

    They are pretty affordable to.

    Then, I would get a service like Vonage for each of you that need to be on the phone system and have the kall8 stuff point to those numbers. The reason I’d use Vonage or other voip provider is because anywhere you have internet you can get calls (you can make them too if you’d like – much cheaper than a regular telco call from another country to the US because it would be just like you were in the US).

    Then, I’d setup Vonage to have a ring list for all of your personal phones.

    Essentially, Kall8 would decide who in your team gets the phone call and Vonage would decide where you get it (Vonage phone, cell phone, etc).

    You can use normal phones with Vonage too. No special handsets needed.

    To an extent, this is what we do and it has worked very well for us.

  6. peter says:

    Thanks Brian,

    This would be great to pick your brain.

  7. peter says:

    Thanks Joel,

    This is indeed good idea. I have Vonage so I should check if it can forward the call to my UK mobile well.

    The problem with Vonage though it may not work great with forwarding calls to some countries. At least when I call to rural Russian areas I may not get through from the first time.

  8. Call Center Management
    Packet8 offers the first fully integrated iPBX call center management solution.

  9. Duane says:

    anyone that thinks asterisk is the only option and more to the point that it can scale is kidding themselves especially on the last point, go check up on google for the number of VSPs that actively moan about the instability of asterisk.

    Software Options:

    * Freeswitch – Former asterisk devs peeved about the direction/instability/crap code in Asterisk
    * CallWeaver (formerly OpenPBX) – More peeved asterisk devs/users, tired of the dual licensing (and digium making money from their efforts) forked asterisk into a GPLv2 base and have been working heavily to fix all the problems digium won’t and it works on BSD a 1000x better then asterisk apparently
    * SER/OpenSER – Most companies that use asterisk for a voicemail/queues/confs etc put SER or OpenSER infront to cope with the real grunt work that asterisk falls over with

    etc

    As for VSP companies, there are lots, and it really depends where you are calling etc.

  10. xs5 says:

    Thanks Daune,

    You have provided such a great information on asterisk options. Yes there are a lot of options but what My experience is that when I tried to use software options especially SER/OpenSER, I faceds some problems in its installations and companies are developing OpenSER more user friendly. I am agree with you that If we search out we can find lots of VSP companies.

    The VoIP/TDM Routes Marketplace

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