Author: Jim Machi – General Manager CCD, Sangoma
Due to cost, many small businesses have started with an open source PBX, such as Asterisk or FreePBX. But once you have that in place, is it possible you might need to move to a more business-oriented solution – one that is supported? In other words, is it possible you might outgrow what you started with?
Open source PBXs are great for the right customer. If you as a customer are programming-oriented, then digging into an open source PBX is a great option. They are highly customizable, so you can get in there and figure out exactly how you want your phone system to behave. And it might be fun to go download new releases, pick the specific phones you want and keep the system updated with the latest security upgrades.
But, let’s say your business grows, and you have less time for upkeep and maintenance than you used to. You need to sell your product, right? And if your product is not phone systems, then the time you spend on your phone system takes away from your business focus. Certainly, in that case it would make sense to upgrade to a commercial system so that someone else handles the updates, the support, the specific upgrades required and that gives you a choice of phones and SBCs that work with the unit. The system can still be open source-based and behave like you’re used to, but you’d have more time to run your business.
Maybe you like your current system, but you purchased it from a reseller who put the open source components together; there are many specialist resellers who in fact do that. They take an open source PBX, such as FreePBX, craft it into a form that can be sold to a customer. However, many of these resellers are small companies and might not be able to handle your growing needs. Or you may be worried that they’ll go in a different direction and not be able to support you any longer.
And let’s say you need other features beyond what the open source version offers. You might want specific routing capability. You might want to add on applications beyond simple phone calls. You might want to add smartphone support via a smartphone client. You, just, need…MORE.
In all these cases, it makes sense that you would “outgrow” what you’re currently using. In fact, the O’Brien Automotive team, with offices across the US and over 500 employees, did in fact follow a similar path above. They started with an Asterisk-based PBX, moved to FreePBX from Sangoma (also based on Asterisk) and then from there moved to the Sangoma commercially supported PBX version, PBXact. Read their full success story here.