One of the major discussions presently is that of software replacing humans. Do not be alarmed, it’s been happening for decades already. 

In PBX technology, there was the “nommer asseblief” system initially. The system required a human to physically connect callers with their destinations. Telephone networks are represented by trees and at the end of each branch the network terminates into an exchange. As a result the term Private Branch Exchange or PBX was derived. Eventually the human element was removed from the telephone call switching system and the term PABX was derived, where the A stood for automatic. The “A” was eventually dropped again as technology in general became “automatic”. 

Fast forward a few decades. The modern PBX provider probably started selling some form of an Asterisk-based PBX, not much earlier than the year 2000 or as recently as yesterday, seeing that Asterisk and its software branch (Freeswitch) are still the best telephony engines presently used. A great majority of the current IP PBX (and VoIP) solutions rely on Asterisk or Freeswitch to fulfil the telephony “engine” requirement, and together own a great majority of the global market. 

What has changed, in a very big way, is how we use these telephony engines from a software design perspective. Mirroring important components in a “high availability” configuration and designing for horizontal scaling instead of vertical scaling are some of the new and amazing features available to developers. We use such cutting edge technologies to design systems that ultimately run better and faster, are more resilient against failures, outages and data loss, and ultimately require less human support. One system to service them all, automatically.

The modern PBX vendor or reseller is in one of 4 technology phases.

Phase 1: The startup phase. This vendor or reseller knows how to install and support FreePBX, 3CX or alike. Such modern IP PBX applications are installed on a computer, hosted server or cloud service, enabling the reseller to offer both hosted and onsite IP PBX solutions. No multi-tenancy features and 1 solution required per client.

Phase 2: The experienced vendor. Maintaining hundreds of IP PBXs has a steep maintenance requirement and humans are expensive. This vendor incorporates a hypervisor and maintains their own virtual cluster to house multiple IP PBX virtual containers. One server or server cluster for many virtual containers, yet no multi-tenancy or single application to serve all clients holistically.

Phase 3: The professional vendor. It is not feasible to maintain more than 500 PBX containers in a virtual environment unless the human element is very affordable. A multi-tenant solution is required to serve many users with one holistic application. This vendor turns to licensed software or embarks on building their own solution. Some use FusionPBX or alike to enjoy some form of license-free multi-tenancy, yet no end-to-end all inclusive one-for-all cloud PBX platform.

Phase 4: The more mature ultimate vendor.  Uses modern day software to build their own, utilising application libraries and APIs to build new solutions that scale infinitely and never outgrow its design. Such solutions at minimum include a telephony engine like Freeswitch and a SIP proxy like Kamailio, and some glue like ASP.net or whatever the developers are experienced in. Not to mention the security components or the scaling components which could include Docker, and then some more software. The point is that software development is a long term commitment and requires a permanent development team. Not many vendors can afford this route, if ever. Some acquire their own licensed software, which usually costs an arm and a leg and requires a very large customer base to absorb all the associated recurring license costs. 

Don’t embark blindly on the next phase, plan ahead, ask for advice. 

Bizvoip itself has gone through the complete evolution of the PBX technology stack. We are adept at building virtual clusters and creating software from scratch. We dont only save clients money, but also help them to grow fast and share the knowledge we have acquired along the way. Bizvoip’s advanced platforms and APIs allow clients to create revolutionary applications easily and efficiently. Learn from our mistakes, no need to make your own.

Speak to a Bizvoip solutions architect if you need help planning ahead. Advice is free and with the current fast moving pace of software development clients may embark on a mission which could become outdated even before its completion. Bizvoip currently has 6 different PBX platforms on offer, 2 of which are fully multi-tenant and licensed software applications, while the other 4 are a combination of open source and licensed components to create more cost effective solutions. 

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