Gloves come off in IP Centrex vs. IP PBX

The Network World Showdown pitting IP Centrex service suppliers against IP PBX vendors at the Voice on the Network show in Atlanta last week was close, but there was a winner.


Showdown slides and forum

See the slides from the showdown, then jump into our forum to continue the debate.


We asked three IP Centrex suppliers and three IP PBX vendors to come to VON with team responses to a mock RFI put together by myself; Mike Hommer, manager of consulting for Miercom, which is a member of the Network World Global Test Alliance; and Carl Ford from VON.

The IP Centrex team consisted of GoBeam, PeerCom and NetCentrex, while the IP PBX camp featured Vertical Networks, Mitel and Alcatel. Both groups were asked how they would serve a business with three sites needing DIDs, voice mail, transparent feature support and the ability to support interoffice transfers.

The hypothetical company consisted of a New York headquarters with 100 stations and four T-1 trunks, a branch office in Hoboken, N.J., with 10 stations, five analog lines and T-1 access, and a branch in Bakersfield, Calif., with 10 stations, five analog lines and DSL.

The teams came prepared to answer eight core RFI questions: the look of the basic configuration; cost per station; endstations supported; how moves/adds/changes are handled; the scalability story; how messaging is addressed; plans for mobility; and key advantages.

Not surprisingly, both teams said their solution was scalable, reliable, manageable and cost-effective (<a href="/columnists/2002/1014showdown.html">click here for all the details</a>, including the slides).

The key differentiators that stood out:

  • With IP PBXs you can migrate gradually, department by department if need be, while the IP Centrex approach is typically a larger conversion.
  • IP PBXs can be used with a range of service providers.
  • IP Centrex has a better disaster/survivability story because it keeps ticking regardless of the condition of the customer's site.
  • New features are available to IP Centrex immediately upon release, relieving the customer of upgrade hassles/version control problems.

We asked the audience to vote for the team that made the most compelling case for our hypothetical network, and the winner was: IP Centrex (although just by a hair).

In summary statements, Woody Boyd, CEO of PeerCom, said IP Centrex now enables service providers to rival CPE capabilities. "It is just a question of who owns the equipment."

That appears to be more true than ever. Large organizations might end up using a mix of the approaches.

Learn more about this topic

Showdown slides

See how the opposing teams answered our challenge.

Showdown forum

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