FreeBPX roll-your-own vs. FreePBX appliance or PCXact appliance (maybe hosted too)

I’ve searched, so I hope this post doesn’t annoy some. Wait - it will. Sorry.

So, I’m struggling to understand why I should purchase EITHER of the appliances versus a roll-your-own solution, installing freePBX on a server of my choosing.

Obviously, some background is necessary to consider before you reply. I’m a very longtime sysadmin. I’ve been doing this since '88. I’m the IT Director at a private school and fully implemented a Barracuda Networks Cudatel 270b 7 years ago. I did this myself with a minimal amount of help from a friend. I’ve completely managed this device myself for the past 7 years and would use it another 20 years if &#%@!# Barracuda Networks weren’t eliminating the Cudatel product line completely from their product lineup. Grrrr!

So - hardware: I have hardware that (according to what I read) will be MUCH more than sufficient to run the FreePBX software. I’ve got an HP dl380 gen7 that I can fully dedicate to this project.

Training: at this moment, I’m sitting in my hotel in Toronto, waiting to go to the FreePBX training class at Tech4Canada, starting tomorrow. I suspect this should provide the implementation and management training I need to fully do this. I’ve started watching Chris’ videos on the Sangoma website.

Support: I manage several other community-driven software packages like Spiceworks and a couple open-source monitors. So, all-in-all I’m OK w/ community-driven support. I understand (from the support-2 page with POMP options) you can also purchase a’la carte support in blocks, so I’m OK w/ that as well. I expect to be running this on my own and only need help occasionally, like when I have to (good grief not very often!) call Microsoft for some deep, dark problem with my AD or DNS that may have been due to an ancient server being improperly de-provisioned 8 years ago and its remnants not being properly cleaned up - that kind of stuff.

Annnnnnnnnd then…we could, I guess, throw in the hosted FreePBX option as well.

What are your thoughts? I’m not looking to argue; just looking for good arguments either way. I think I’m pretty set on going with a roll-your-own solution but looking for feedback and good alternate opinions.

Thanks all!

FreePBX Distro on your own favorite hardware.


I’ve have implemented 4 FreePBX servers and been administering all of them for more than 6 years and I can tell you FreePBX Distro is a very good solution. It is easy to install and maintain as long as you have a little IT background and also a little linux knowledge. More often than not, if you have an issue that you can’t solve by yourself after searching through the wiki or forum, you can post your own questions on the forum and get help not only from other forum members but sometimes from the Sangoma devs too. In case your issue turns out to be a bug, you just create an bug report and work with the devs to find a solution.
FreePBX Distro is not only a good product, in my opinion, but also a good chance of learning a new skill.

Hope it helps!

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The good news is that I think you could be successful with any of the solutions you mention above. I think it depends on your current goals and future needs.

Your hardware vs…
There are a lot of people who install on their own hardware and never have an issue. From a business continuity perspective buying the FreePBX or PBXact appliance vs. installing on your own gives you guaranteed hardware compatibility and hardware support. One stop for software and hardware issues. Is that critical to you?

Hosted vs. On Prem
Hosted can be a good solution, but it depends on how in the weeds you are willing to get with your network and what kind of disaster recovery you plan on having. One of the things I like about on prim is the ability to still have phones connected internally in the event of a internet outage. This is more common than our server infrastructure going down, so it makes more sense to me. Depending on what is relevant in your environment, your mileage may vary.

FreePBX vs. PBXact
This one I feel is the most straightforward. PBXact comes with many of the modules you would need to pay for in FreePBX. If you are going to use these modules the cheaper route is PBXact. If you think you will not use these modules, FreePBX probably makes sense.

 Call Recording Reports
 Class of Service
 Conference Pro
 Extension Routing
 Fax Pro
 Park Pro
 Page Pro
 SysAdmin Pro
 Voicemail Notify
 Voicemail Reports
 XMPP Pro
 Zulu UC Desktop Application (Full user license)
 CRM Link Module


Also PBXact comes with a full idemification and warranty that Open Source FreePBX does not come with.

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Agree with the roll your own. I despise the concept of hardware sprawl. With a big hybrid flash cluster, 6x10gE links and nodes that aren’t dedicated to just running the phone system the choice for us was obvious to run the distro. Having learned it on the fly over the course of a month among all the rest of our new datacenter buildout, I wouldn’t go any other way.

We bought a bunch of modules, a pile of Sangoma phones, and aside from the one damn recurring (but non-affecting) error in the logs that nobody seems to run into very often, it’s been running flawlessly.

If you have the time, DIY, if not, buy their hardware and drop it in. Also consider the cost of running their box versus your own HP if the thing is only going to run freepbx - it’s probably a waste of hardware.

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