This two-part video series addresses questions AVOXI receives about integrating VoIP on top of a current PBX platform. It provides an overview of Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) and interfacing a cloud PBX solution with traditional analog systems.
PART ONE: Private Branch Exchanges (PBX)
Hello everyone, my name is John Edwards. I do process management and training here at AVOXI.
Today, we are talking about the PBX or Private Branch Exchange system.
Before we talk about PBXs, let’s give some context on why we’re speaking about PBXs. This is a huge term in telecommunications and it is extremely important to understand.
I’d like to talk about when we first started using telephone numbers. Let’s say I had a business and I wanted to purchase a telephone number. I would go to a telephone carrier who most likely gets the number from someone else, then that carrier would point the number to my business where I’d be able to answer the line.
The problem with this is if I have one person answering phone calls, they can transfer it throughout the business. But, as the business grows—let’s say I have 500 people—if I have one person transferring between 500 different people and between 20 different departments, the whole process becomes extremely complicated and realistically does not work.
The first solution that came along to solve this problem was a switchboard. To give you an idea of the switchboard, think about pictures of old phone operators sitting at a desk with a giant switchboard in front of them pulling and unplugging pegs to transfer the calls throughout the business. As you can guess, this was expensive, not only did you have to pay someone to sit there and do this job, the number of switchboard operators varied depending on how large the company was. Additionally, there was the cost to train these operators along with the upkeep of the switchboard, which was also an expensive piece of equipment.
Because of this we created what’s called an Analog PBX. The analog PBX is the same type of idea. There is still a copper line running through the ground that delivers the call to your company, but now the PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system distributes the calls throughout the company.
So at this point training is no longer required and the switchboard, which takes up a lot of space, isn’t needed. The analog PBX is a lot smaller. It still takes up some space, still requires staff, but that staff now becomes your IT department.
However, an analog PBX can be difficult to use. It takes a lot of programming, and that programming can be somewhat difficult. The next step was a move into a Virtual IP PBX or PABX (Private Automated Branch Exchange). You will usually hear people call it a PBX. These days if someone says PBX they assume you have an automatic virtual PBX. If anyone has an analog PBX, they refer to it as an Analog PBX.
The industry started moving away from those copper wires in the ground because it’s a lot more expensive. And, you’re paying for this huge amount of infrastructure when instead you can send the calls through the Internet to a Virtual IP PBX.
That means instead of a call going through copper wire, we use IP locators to send these calls. This method is more cost efficient and easier to program and distribute calls throughout your business. Additionally, it’s easier to manage and maintain.
PART TWO: Integration of Analog and Virtual PBXs
The last and final step, we decided we have this box and this IT team managing this PBX (Virtual IP PBX). But it doesn’t really need a location; so we decided to just move it to the cloud. In this situation, everything is removed from the company and hosted offsite.
That being said, some companies choose to maintain their internal PBX. There are various reasons. One may be that you have a complex business, and your staff wants to program the PBX themselves. That offers some amount of customization that can be somewhat trickier with a cloud solution.
Another reason is that it may just be expensive to upgrade. Imagine a hotel that has 500 rooms. They already have this copper infrastructure throughout the hotel. To upgrade to a virtual PBX requires gutting all the walls, buying Ethernet cords and IP phones. Basically, the hotel has to update the whole infrastructure which is costly. So a lot of companies still maintain an analog PBX.
Integrating VoIP Services
A lot of people think, okay AVOXI is a cloud PBX service provider, how can they help me? I cannot interface with them. That isn’t true because one of the things that we offer and started our company business around was numbers—local and toll free numbers around the world. So let’s look at how we can help you if you have a PBX.
Let’s say you want numbers in the UK, France, and South Africa. We take those numbers, provide them to you from our carriers, and point them to our service cloud. From our service cloud, we deliver the calls to your IP PBX. This is easy. Again we use IP locators, and you get that functionality from us.
This allows for us to provide A-Z termination. If you’re trying to make outbound calls as well, you can do that. You can send calls from your business to the cloud PBX out to anywhere in the world you choose so that you can call your customers back. That way we’re able to integrate with your PBX. While we do not provide you the internal routing for which you use the internal PBX, we provide you with that the calling structure. That integration allows you access to countries that you may not be able to otherwise reach in a cost effective manner.
If you have an analog PBX, don’t worry, we have experience with a lot customers around the world. If you have that copper infrastructure and are trying to keep your analog PBX, you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money to upgrade the infrastructure. AVOXI has a device called a gateway. This box or server system interfaces with your system and allows you to send calls via SIP/VoIP. The gateway lets your analog PBX act like a virtual PBX. You will be able to take the calls and direct them via IP to the gateway. Then AVOXI handles the A-Z termination as we do with the virtual PBX. So, you can make calls all around the world through the AVOXI cloud.
We’ve done many solutions that involve both of these scenarios. We also integrate with hybrid solutions. Some businesses operate both a virtual PBX and an analog PBX. Maybe you have multiple locations with a variety of these setups going on.
We’ve interfaced with all of these before, and we’ve made all type of custom solutions. If this is something that you wish to speak about with our staff, we can help you find the best option.
That is PBX in a nutshell. For more information see avoxi.com:
- Can You Add a VoIP Number to an Existing PBX?
- Ebook: Global Communications Made Simple
- Solutions Brief: Leveraging Legacy Technology to Support New Business