When making long-term plans for your organization’s IT strategy, the elements that make up your voice system should be carefully considered. This article explores the question: Should you retain your existing PBX or replace it with a software-based solution?

Author: Adam Jacobs

Publication date: July 2010

Product version: Office Communications Server 2007 R2

When you consider the components in an enterprise IT strategy, the voice elements should not be thought of as insignificant. The question of retaining your existing PBX or replacing it with a software-based solution such as Microsoft Office Communications Server is important and one that needs to be carefully factored into your long-term IT strategy.

Chances are many of you have already invested thousands of your local currency in telephony equipment, and simply abandoning your current configuration is not going to be an option. At the core of this investment often lies PBX. As an information technology strategist, one of your key decisions could be whether to take the traditional vendor route. In this case, a physical PBX (“hard” solution), or take the plunge into a software-based (“soft”) solution. For the minority who has made the move to unified communications (UC), you may have chosen to replace your PBX with a voice gateway. As a result, your switch to soft telephony is for the most part complete. That said, for those who have not yet made this switch, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. There are several factors you need to consider, such as the following:

  • A five-year cost comparison of hard versus soft solutions
  • Whether a software alternative should be considered if you choose to replace your PBX
  • Whether to move away from traditional vendors and consider Communications Server on the basis that UC is about the user experience and tighter desktop integration
  • How to address subsequent gaps in telephony expertise within your organization

Imagine the following scenario: You have a site that is in development that requires a resilient, on-premise voice solution for 300 users. You have already adopted several Microsoft solutions, which is common in today’s enterprise. You go to submit your proposals and, in line with your business, you construct a five-year total cost model that looks similar to Table 1 and Table 2.

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