Sizing up VoIP servers
3Com, Avaya, Siemens, and Zultys offer rich telephony features, excellent voice quality, and more or less scalabilityFollow @infoworld
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Most importantly, all of the products we tested met the primary goal: providing good telephone service. Voice quality (as measured by Abacus) was high -- possibly better than the POTS phone sitting on your desk. We wouldn't mind using any of these phone systems every day, although in a couple of cases, their beauty was very much in the eye of the beholder.
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The first thing you notice about the 3Com VCX V7000 is that it looks like it was made by IBM. Granted, the IBM logo on the front of the box has something to do with this impression. IBM only makes the hardware, however, in the form of a 1U Intel-based server running Red Hat Linux. But it's the software, not the hardware, that makes up this PBX.
Because the V7000 stems from the networking world and runs on Linux, it's likely that IT managers will find this product easier to use than products that resemble the PBXes of yore. Most of the management process takes place through well-designed and configurable Web pages. You can add users one at a time, or you can import lists from an external database.
PBXes being what they are, you can only expect so much when it comes to cool interfaces. While 3Com's is Web-based, it still consists of lists of phone numbers and users, pull-down menus, and the like. You won't find any cool drag 'n drop stuff here or elsewhere in PBX land. But, having said that, the 3Com management interfaces work just fine, they're easy to figure out, and they're consistent. You can do a lot worse.
You're not limited to the Web interface on the V7000. As you'd expect, there's a command line interface for hard-core geeks who don't have the patience for GUIs, and there's an X Windows interface available if the Web interface isn't working for some reason.
3Com also provides a Web-based interface for phone users, allowing them to set various parameters for their phones. This means that they can use the Web interface to set up button assignments, forwarding rules, speed dial numbers, and so on. After the settings are entered into the Web form, the V7000 downloads them to the phone almost instantly. Of course, phone administrators can also set up the phone to meet a corporate standard and they can limit the things users can do with their phones.
For users that travel, 3Com provides a softphone application that users can run on their laptops. It presents a detailed image of the 3Com phone on the screen and you can use