Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – What You Need To Know

As defined by Wikipedia, VoIP is the general term used for a family of transmission technologies for the delivery of voice communications over internet protocol networks. Internet telephony encompasses communications services such as: voice, facsimile and voice messaging applications that are transmitted via the internet.

One of the most important considerations when researching VoIP as your telecommunication’s solution is “bandwidth.” The functionality of VoIP phones is dependent on your internet connection and bandwidth is the capability to transfer data in a given span of time. There are two types of bandwidth. One is the upload bandwidth, which is the quantity of data sent to the internet, and the other is download bandwidth, which is the quantity of data received from the internet. The recommended broadband bandwidth you need varies by the size of your business, specifically the number of phone lines your organization has. Ultimately, bandwidth will determine your sound quality, so it is very important to consult with your phone systems company to make sure you have the right infrastructure in place.

Another consideration when looking into a VoIP solution is Power over Ethernet (PoE). Typically, when locating access points, technicians often use available AC (alternating current) electrical outlets to base decisions on where to install access points. Some organizations only locate access points near AC outlets and within reach of an electrical cord. Or, they'll look for a convenient location to install new outlets at points where it's suitable to run conduit and mount outlet boxes. PoE solves these problems. It is a solution that requires technicians to run only one Ethernet cable to the access point for supplying both power and data. The PoE power sourcing equipment detects the presence of powered devices and supplies applicable current into the data cable. Power over Ethernet, allows businesses to save money, have flexibility and most important this solution is more reliable.

Because a VoIP call is basically a packet of data being transferred via the internet, your call is subject to potential problems such as latency, jitters and errors. Therefore your connection to the internet and the devices used to connect to internet can play a part in reducing or improving your Quality of Service (QoS). In other words, things like having the right amount of bandwidth and implementing Power over Ethernet will provide you with better Quality of Service.

There are many benefits to having a VoIP telecommunications solution. Such as:

• Making telephone calls is easy and inexpensive
• It’s a network that follows you anywhere you go – so you will
never miss a phone call
• Inexpensive call rates
• Value added services, like: conferencing, caller id,
inbound/outbound faxing, voicemail, and find me-follow me, to
name a few
• You can manage your VoIP network from anywhere in the world if
there is a broadband internet connection available

Your customers will benefit too. A VoIP system has features that are found in the most expensive products on the market, such as on-hold music that supports both MP3 and streaming media. And, customers will have shorter wait times because the call queues allow your sales team to monitor the queue while they take incoming calls, so they can shorten the calls if needed.

Of course, when making the decision to go with a VoIP solution you should also consider the following precautions: 1) broadband phones work by the transmission of digital signals using broadband internet connections, so it is always suggested to go for a high quality broadband connection to achieve the best quality with your phone calls, and 2) you should always be ready with a back-up power supply in case of a power outage or internet connection failure as this break down will stop the functioning of broadband phones.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bitware Technologies Helps Businesses Pick the Right Voice Over IP Option

Whether you are a small business with small needs or a global corporation, BitWare Technologies' will consult with you and make sure you invest in the right technology to meet your company’s needs while saving money.

When you are ready to switch from a traditional office phone system to IP-Telephony, you will need to decide on a solution provider. Central to that decision is finding the provider who will understand and seek the best solutions for your company’s specific needs. The biggest benefit for selecting VoIP is its cost effectiveness and scalability over traditional phone systems. But, before deciding what you need there are several questions a business should be prepared to answer; does your workforce need remote access, do you have the right internet and voice connectivity, and what add-ons does your phone system need?

BitWare Technologies prides itself on providing a free phone bill analysis and will meet with you to determine what phone system will best meet your telecommunications needs. Located in Southeast Michigan, BitWare’s flagship product, the BitWare Unified Communications Server (UCS), is a business phone system packing enterprise class features into an affordably priced communications powerhouse for businesses. With BitWare UCS you can:

• Utilize a business phone system to improve productivity and service your customers better

• Leverage Voice over IP or traditional phone lines to cut costs, connect offices together, and converge data and
voice onto one network

• Unify phone calls, faxing, and voicemail with your e-mail inbox, web browser, and mobile phone

• Bring your office anywhere with mobile phone integration and work from home solutions

BitWare Technologies’ VoIP Solution is a multimedia data solution that handles all of your voice, fax, and conferencing needs. BitWare takes advantage of the highly robust Asterisk soft switch for all ACD/PBX functionality. Asterisk IS the answer to successful Voice over IP migrations. Asterisk simplifies the migration from a traditional phone system to an IP based phone system. From a cost perspective, it CANNOT be outdone. Clients will be pleased to find that the voice quality of an Asterisk based Voice over IP phone system will be comparable to or better than that of traditional analogue systems.

For four years, BitWare Technologies has helped businesses embrace new phone system and technology solutions giving their customers the competitive advantage they need.
How can BitWare Technologies help your business?

• Appear “big” to your customers – Asterisk VoIP offers sophistication
• No busy signal – VoIP handles high-volume call processing
• Unify employees at multiple locations with one phone number
• Transfer calls easily to anyone... anywhere

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bitware Technologies launches new modem-less outbound fax solution

Through a strong partnership with Asterisk® the World’s leading open source PBX (Private Branch Exchange), BitWare Technologies has an on-going commitment to develop solutions that are specifically designed to each customer’s individual and unique requirements. While BitWare Technologies partnerships have proven invaluable time and time again, BitWare Technologies continues to think and design “outside the box,” focusing on the best solution for the customer and the budget.

The Open Source PBX solution has allowed partners Dennis J. Monroe II (DJ) and Darrin Gorski to continuously develop and deploy better technology solutions for clients. They have developed an inbound & outbound fax solution that allows users to send faxes from their computer via BitWare's Unified Communications Server without a modem. Currently in Beta testing with this solution, DJ says, “In this day and age clients are tired of the inconvenient old fax machine. They often lack clarity, are costly and you can encounter numerous problems when trying to send and receive documents. BitWare Technologies wanted to update the technology for our clients and make those issues a thing of the past.” For businesses, this solution is a competitive advantage. It makes communication with customers and clients much faster, saving time and allowing for more efficiency.

For organizations today, DJ goes on to say, “In this time of high speed communication, computers allow us to speed things up. Our fax solution allows businesses to save money instead of spending too much money on fax machines, maintenance, and supplies.” Not only does this solution save businesses money, but it is an environmentally-friendly way to send and receive messages. Traditional faxing options require a lot of paper, and for many organizations that means hundreds of dollars devoted to paper and ink expenses. A software solution allows businesses the opportunity to “go green,” plus save money.

In addition to the added benefit of BitWare’s fax solution, VoIP technology continues to be a communication tool that is cost effective and rich in features that include free voicemail, call forwarding, caller ID, call waiting, call waiting ID, 3 way calling, speed dialing, find me follow me, and much more.

Monday, September 7, 2009

FreePBX 3.0

I noticed that the link to the development ISO was no longer available on the FreePBX V3 wiki site located here: http://www.freepbx.org/v3/wiki/Installation

If anyone wants to download the ISO file to give FreePBX 3 a try I was still able to do so here: http://mirror.freepbx.org/FreePBX-3.0-0.0.2-i386.iso

For now it appears to be working. Stay tuned for a review in the next few days after I have had a chance to play with it a bit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Easy Boot Flash Drive for Linux installs

I recently needed to install a CentOS image from a flash drive. Since it was a bit of a hassle to figure out how to make a flash drive bootable I figured I would document it here so others could benefit. This method assumes you have a Redhat or CentOS Linux machine available for this process and intermediate knowledge of Linux.

Things you will need:

• A thumb drive
• A bootable image “.img”
• A computer with Linux installed on it.

You can create an image using a utility such as DropDMG, or download one from the Internet. For this exercise we will use a CentOS (diskboot.img) image that I downloaded from http://mirrors.liquidweb.com/CentOS/5.3/os/i386/images/

Follow these steps to move the image onto your flash drive:

1. Save your image file to your home directory on your Linux machine.

2. Place the flash drive into the USB port on your Linux machine and use the dmesg (alternatively use fdisk –l) command to determine the device’s location.

sd 8:0:0:0: Attached scsi removable disk sda
sd 8:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg0 type 0
Vendor: SanDisk Model: U3 Cruzer Micro Rev: 8.02
Type: CD-ROM ANSI SCSI revision: 00
sr0: scsi3-mmc drive: 48x/48x tray
sr 8:0:0:1: Attached scsi CD-ROM sr0
sr 8:0:0:1: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 5
usb-storage: device scan complete

Note that the device location is sda

3. Using the dd command and the flash drives specific location (e.g. /sda) move the image to the flash drive

[root@newcastle ~]# dd if=diskboot.img of=/dev/sda bs=4096
3072+0 records in
3072+0 records out
12582912 bytes (13 MB) copied, 2.81418 seconds, 4.5 MB/s
[root@newcastle ~]#

You should now have a bootable flash drive that you can use to install Linux or run a Live CD image from USB.

Resources
Here is a great Ubuntu tutorarial for creating an Ubuntu flash drive install:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/FromUSBStick

Windows Flash Drive Utility:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/unetbootin/files/

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bitware Technologies launches VoIP leasing option for Michigan Businesses.

BitWare Technologies, a leading technology company, recently launched a new, small business friendly VoIP solution. BitWare is now offering a leasing alternative for organizations wanting to take advantage of the huge telecommunications cost savings and many features that Voice over IP offers.

Dennis J. Monroe II (DJ), Partner says, “This is a great way for a small business or a home based business to offer sophistication to both their clients and prospective clients.”

For businesses today, VoIP technology continues to be a communication tool that is cost effective and rich in features that include free voicemail, call forwarding, caller ID, call waiting, call waiting ID, 3 way calling, speed dialing, find me follow me and much more.

BitWare Technologies’ first leasing customer is Source Path, a technology company located in Oakland County. Source Path offers its clients IT consulting, sales and services to businesses. Joshua J. Van Berkum, Sr. Systems Engineer/Principal explains, “Your customers judge you on your phone system and accessibility. In our line of work we need a phone system that works remotely and will allow us to manage and prioritize help desk tickets.” Joshua goes on to say, “BitWare’s VoIP solution and this new leasing option is a great fit for our telecommunication needs.”

In addition to standard VoIP features, BitWare Technologies customers enjoy added benefits including converting voicemail to email, receiving faxes and access to a user portal where they can review reports and make changes to their phone lines. One feature in particular that Source Path, was looking for and found with BitWare Technologies is mobile phone integration. This feature allows Joshua J. Van Berkum and Timothy H. Boyes, Principals to prioritize phone calls when they are out of the office for business. The technology works by having the caller identify themselves when the “desk” phone answers. If the recipient of the phone call is out, the phone rings through to their mobile line and identifies the caller giving Source Path the option to answer the call or forward the call to voice mail where a help desk ticket will be electronically generated.

BitWare’s leasing option was designed to be an attractive offering for small or home based businesses/offices, but in today’s tough economy, leasing is also a recession-beating finance option. It enables businesses to have the opportunity to overcome short-term cash flow or budgetary concerns, and invest in cost-effective technology. Installation and monthly costs are low and ongoing support costs are included with the monthly lease price. BitWare Technologies is offering a silver lining for businesses that are determined to weather the economic storm. Despite budget concerns, or the size of the business, organizations can still upgrade their outdated telephony systems and switch to a more cost effective communications technology.

Founded in 2005, BitWare Technologies continues to help businesses embrace new phone system and technology solutions giving their customers the competitive advantage they need.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Howto NAT: Polycom Phones and Asterisk

I see many posts on the Internet regarding registering Polycom phones to Asterisk when one or both are behind a NAT firewall. Having worked through this issue myself I thought it was time to share with the community the steps I take to get my remote Polycom customers up and running. Most of these steps will apply to any SIP device on the market, but here I am focusing on configurations specifically for Polycom since they are the only phones you should ever consider using. :D

Firewall Settings

Assuming you are working with a NAT/PAT capable router the following ports on your network need forwarded to your server and your phone (if you are working with multiple phones behind the same firewall you need to define RTP ports for each phone):
  • SIP UDP/5060 Forward to the internal address of the server or phone
  • RTP UDP/10000-20000 Forward to the internal address of the server or phone
If you have a firewall that can prioritize traffic or perform QOS you want to prioritize this traffic to the Internet. This will help keep your Youtube vids from interfering with your voice quality.

Asterisk Settings

SIP was not made with NAT in mind. Therefore, some specific settings are required in Asterisk to get SIP to work from behind NAT. Primarily, Asterisk needs to advertise the external IP address of the NAT device it is hiding behind. This modifies the SIP headers and keeps your voice and signaling path from trying to reach an internal address from an external location.

In the [general] section of sip.
conf (or in sip_general_custom.conf on a FreePBX server) add the following lines:

externip=65.31.68.99 (this is the external IP of your network)
localnet=192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 (this is the internal network and netmask)


If you do not have a static
IP you will need to use a URL. In this case use this instead:

externhost=mydomain.ibnating.com (your URL)
externrefresh=120 (DNS refresh rate)
localnet=192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 (your internal network and netmask)

Once you have these settings in place you will need to specify whether your SIP clients are NAT or local. From FreePBX this is easily accomplished in the extensions configuration by setting NAT to "yes" and qualify to "yes". These same settings apply if you are building your sip peers in sip.conf. Your other phones will need to be set to "no" for NAT so that they receive internal network information from Asterisk.

Phone Settings

This used to be a hassle with Polycom phones. Luckily with newer firmware versions, fields have been added to make dealing with NAT a breeze. This assumes you are using a boot server to configure your phones. This is the best (read "correct" here) way to manage a Polycom device. If you are configuring the phone via the web interface or menus please fee free to interpret these settings for your own purposes.

Add the following line to sip.config:

nat nat.ip="24.192.179.235" nat.keepalive.interval="30" nat.signalPort="5060" nat.mediaPortStart="10000"

  • nat.ip is the external address of the nat device that the phone is behind.
  • nat.keepalive.interval is the interval that the phone will send a keep alive packet to Asterisk. This should be 60 seconds or less. I use 30.
  • nat.signalPort is the port SIP signalling. This should be 5060 unless you are using a goofy port for sip or separate ports for multiple phones.
  • nat.mediaPortStart defines the beginning of the RTP range. Typically RTP is 10000-20000 so I set this to 10000.
Once you have completed these steps the phone should register an make phone calls. If you have any issues at all feel free to post a comment here and we will respond. For further reference you can check out our knowledge base at kb.bitwaretech.com.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google OS

Last night Google announced its soon to be released Google Chrome operating system. Google's web optimized operating system will be a Linux based lightweight OS targeted initially at netbooks and users who spend most of their time accessing applications through the internet. Google expects netbooks leveraging its operating system to go on sale in the first half of 2010.

Google's new operating system builds on a suite of web based productivity applications, Google Apps, Gmail, Google Docs, and a plethora of additional applications (BitWare Technologies is a Google Apps Premier reseller). The addition of an operating system places Google in a position to directly compete with Microsoft and Apple in the netbook and desktop market. Given that the Google operating system is open source and Linux based, it is likely that Google will leverage the community to develop applications and expand the functionality of their product creating an exciting opportunity for the open source community to get involved on a large scale.

For more information:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BitWare Technologies Believes in Hometown Pride

While so many Michigan residents are trying to find reasons to move out of state, BitWare Technologies is a company with two founding partners passionate about their hometown and passionate about providing businesses with technology solutions that will ultimately save them money and make them more efficient in these tough economic times. Dennis J. Monroe II (DJ), partner at BitWare Technologies and a Michigander since he was eight years old, has built his roots in Southeast Michigan and is proud to be working to grow his business in Michigan. He wants to provide businesses with solutions that solve both every day and not so every day technology problems.

Since BitWare Technologies inception in 2005, Monroe has been delivering customers superior Voice Over IP (VoIP), data networking, consulting and custom software solutions through exceptional technical expertise and experience. Monroe stated, “It is my belief that technology is a tool to improve the work place, and I derive a lot of pleasure from giving my customers the best solutions to their technology needs. I love knowing that every day people are using systems that we built to communicate with others and conduct their business more effectively. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished here at BitWare Technologies.”

BitWare Technologies is committed to helping Michigan through these tough economic times. No matter what size the business, BitWare can bring the best technology solutions and support to their customers by helping organizations embrace new phone system and technology solutions that will save them money.

Currently residing in Warren, Michigan, DJ has been married to wife Erica for 13 years and they have two sons. When DJ isn’t busy consulting and implementing technology solutions for businesses he is active in both the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts with his sons.

For More Information Contact:
Dennis J. Monroe II, Partner
Voice: (800) 983-3154
Email: dj@bitwaretech.com
Website: www.bitwaretech.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bitware Technologies VoIP Solution Offers Many Benefits

Whether you are a small business with small needs or a global corporation, BitWare Technologies' innovative Voice over IP phone system solutions can be scaled to connect your entire enterprise.

Did you know one of the main reasons Voice over IP (VoIP) was developed was to provide access to voice communication anyplace in the world? Why? Because when most people consider making a phone call to someone living in a country half a globe away, the first thing they think of is their phone bill. VoIP solves this problem and many others.

Darrin Gorski, Partner states, “Even in a slow economy, businesses need to consider purchasing technology solutions that will make them more productive and more efficient while still saving them money. At BitWare Technologies we help our clients save money, while helping workers improve productivity and customer service.” Gorski, adds, “Implementing this leading edge technology will delight your employees and impress your customers generating greater productivity, saving you money and generating additional revenue.”

BitWare Technologies VoIP Solution is a multimedia data solution that handles all of your voice, fax and conferencing needs. BitWare takes advantage of the highly robust Asterisk soft switch for all ACD/PBX functionality. Asterisk IS the answer to successful Voice over IP migrations. Asterisk simplifies the migration from a traditional phone system to an IP based phone system. From a cost perspective, it CANNOT be outdone. Clients will be pleased to find that the voice quality of an Asterisk based Voice over IP phone system will be comparable to or better than that of traditional analogue systems.

For four years, BitWare Technologies has helped businesses embrace new phone system and technology solutions giving their customers the competitive advantage they need.

How can BitWare Technologies help your business?

· Appear “big” to your customers – Asterisk VoIP offers sophistication
· No busy signal – VoIP handles high-volume call processing
· Unify employees at multiple locations with one phone number
· Transfer calls easily to anyone... anywhere

Monday, May 18, 2009

Michigan Telephone, VoIP and Broadband blog

BitWare would like to express our thanks to the Michigan Telephone, VoIP and Broadband blog for helping us get the word out about our products and services. After discovering their blog I sent them an e-mail asking if they would be willing to list something about our organization, and they were more than happy to oblige. Please take a moment to check out their blog located at http://michigantelephone.wordpress.com/ for all the latest area VoIP news.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

BitWare Technologies Sends out Press Release to Celebrate Anniversary

Local Michigan Phone System and Technology Provider Celebrates its 5th Year in Business

April 30th, 2009 – On May 5th, BitWare Technologies LLC, a leading full service phone systems and technology company, is celebrating its 4-year anniversary of providing the best service & support to customers of all sizes.

Since its inception in 2005, BitWare Technologies has been delivering customers superior Voice Over IP (VoIP), Data Networking, Consulting and Custom Software Solutions through exceptional technical expertise in design, installation, deployment and service of quality telephony and technology solutions. Dennis J. Monroe II, founding member and Partner of BitWare Technologies stated, “Our philosophy is to sit down with the customer and gain insight into their business. This allows us to leverage our experience and expertise and design and implement a solution that will enhance and personalize the system to meet our client’s business needs.”

Through a strong partnership with Asterisk® the World’s leading open source PBX (Private Branch Exchange), the ongoing commitment has been to propose solutions that are specifically designed to each customer’s individual and unique requirements. While BitWare Technologies partnerships have proven invaluable time and time again, BitWare Technologies continues to think and design ‘outside the box;’ focusing on the best solution for the customer and the budget.

Whether the client is a small, medium or large sized company, BitWare Technologies commitment is to bring the best technology solutions and support to their customers. The firm has maintained its leading edge by applying their knowledge and expertise to hundreds of successful installations and deployments.

For four years, BitWare Technologies has helped businesses embrace new phone system and technology solutions giving their customers the competitive advantage they need.

# # #

About BitWare Technologies LLC
BitWare Technologies is a fully formed limited liability company operating from Detroit, MI. Company formation occurred in the spring of 2005 to fill the growing need for engineers experienced in managing and deploying VoIP solutions in the metro Detroit area and beyond. Each of the founding partners is a veteran network and telephony professional with an emphasis on large scale enterprise deployments and support. BitWare Technologies provides the following services: VoIP Solutions, Data Network Solutions, Consulting Services, and Custom Software Solutions.

###

Congratulations BitWare!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Asterisk vs. Cisco Unified Communications

Over my 12 years in the Telecommunications Industry I have worked with a variety of phone systems including Avaya, Aspect, Nortel, Cisco and Asterisk. I am often asked how Asterisk compares to other traditional phone systems. These days I am most often asked to compare Asterisk with Cisco. Many times I am told by a prospect that Cisco can do things that Asterisk cannot, or that Asterisk is not as reliable as Cisco. Allow me to set the record straight regarding the two systems.

Asterisk vs. Cisco, here are some points where we can differentiate. Since I have administered both systems, I can speak with authority on this subject.

1. Cost – Even if Cisco undercuts their cost upfront, they will make it up on the backend. If you buy a Cisco system you will pay a license for every extension on the system, the phones are more expensive, and you have to buy Microsoft exchange licenses for each voicemail box on the Unity voicemail system. On top of this, you will pay for annual support from a Cisco partner who will charge 20% - 30% of the total cost of the system yearly.

2. Features – In some areas the Cisco phone system really excels. The distributive architecture of the system is quite nice. All in all it is a great phone system. However, out of the box if you compare feature for feature Asterisk can do much more. In addition, due to the openness of its architecture you can make Asterisk do pretty much anything that you want.

3. Voicemail Systems – The voicemail system that comes free with Asterisk is 100% better than the Unity voicemail system that Cisco uses. Unity relies on a Microsoft Exchange mail system to manage voicemails. This is a needlessly complex design that does not provide any enhancements to the overall features of the voicemail system. In addition, on the Cisco system voicemail administration is separate from user/extension administration. Therefore, in addition to logging into the Cisco Call Manager to manage the user and extension, the administrator has to log on to a completely separate system to administer voicemail. With Asterisk, combined with our device management software, the User, Extension, Voicemail and device configuration are all managed from one screen.

4. Phones -- Cisco makes a great phone, however in my opinion Polycom makes the best devices currently on the market, and they are priced much lower than equivalent Cisco phones. Furthermore, Asterisk allows you to choose the phones you want to use with your system. Good luck attaching and managing anything to Cisco's Call Manager that does not have a Cisco logo emblazoned on it.

5. System Integrity – Like any application there are good ways to deploy Asterisk and there are bad ways to deploy Asterisk. If you ask around organizations that have Asterisk based phone systems you will find an array of experiences. Many of these organizations will tell you that their phone system is their biggest nightmare. Still others will tell you that their Asterisk based phone system is the best thing since sliced bread.

In most cases the difference between these organizations is their deployment methods. Many organizations are attracted to Asterisk because of cost. Sometimes this leads those same organizations to cut corners on implementation, phones, interface cards, and server hardware. With Asterisk you get what you pay for. Cutting corners now will cost you in the future. Therefore, hire an experienced integrator to build and support your system, listen to their advice when purchasing phones, and don’t cut corners on equipment costs. PLEASE DON'T EVER BUY CHEAP PHONES! Unless you have a staff member that has performed several Asterisk deployments, don’t do it yourself. This strategy will ensure that you have a quality phone system that rattles and hums as it drives up productivity while enhancing the workplace environment, and you will still come out way ahead on cost over a traditionally branded system.

6. Future Proof Technology – Asterisk is open, freely available, and developed by a community of developers committed to constant improvement of the product. This ensures that the latest enhancements and fixes are available to you without the purchase of new software, licensing, or equipment. If the latest version of Cisco's Call Manager arrives on the market with some fancy new feature, plan on starting from scratch to upgrade your environment. In many cases a Cisco Call Manager upgrade will require you to purchase new software, pay for the same licenses again, and often times buying new rebranded HP servers that have been marked up by Cisco three times their original retail price from ~$4000 to ~$12,000.

Several Cisco shops have dumped Cisco in favor of Asterisk. In many cases they cite cost and features as the reason:

http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/asterisk/asterisk-replaces-cisco-callmanager.asp


http://www.networkworld.com/news/2006/091206-von-sam-houston.html?t5

Here is another interesting article that discusses why some people integrate Asterisk with Cisco:

http://www.voip-info.org/tiki-index.php?page=Asterisk+Cisco+CallManager+Integration


Needless to say they are both good systems, but at the end of the day open standards, ongoing cost of ownership, and flexibility win in my opinion.

If you are interested in a full list of Asterisk and Cisco features, they can be found here:

http://www.asterisk.org/support/features


http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/voicesw/ps6788/vcallcon/ps556/solution_overview_c22-493511.html

Here is a very good post comparing Polycom and Cisco Phones:

http://asterisk.mdaniel.net/?p=11

For more information about BitWare Technologies and our product please visit our website:

http://www.bitwaretech.com/

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Polycom Soundpoint IP 670 Product Review



This week I received a new shipment of Polycom phones to demo putting me in phone nerd heaven with a box of new toys to play with! Why all this excitement? Well included in this latest shipment if the Polycom Soundpoint IP 670, the flagship product of Polycom’s IP phone lineup.

As you may already know, BitWare Technologies is a certified reseller of Polycom phones. After trying several IP phone brands with our phone systems over the years we settled on the Polycom lineup because of their outstanding quality, great value, exceptional voice clarity, and long history in the industry. We have always been impressed with Polycom’s IP products, but their new line of IP phones featuring HD Voice, faster processors (shorter boot times), and enhanced user interfaces raise the bar even higher.

Polycom describes the Soundpoint IP 670 as “a premium SIP desktop phone with color display that delivers a rich voice, visual, and applications experience”. With 6 line keys, a number of soft keys for custom applications, full duplex speaker phone and support for up to three expansion side cars (providing up to 42 additional speed dial keys), this phone is perfect for executives, receptionists, and power users who require an expandable platform.

Color Display

The most noticeable feature of this phone is the 320 X 160 pixel color display. The large color display features images for customizable backgrounds and colors to enhance the viewing experience. Backgrounds and colors even extend to the optional color expansion sidecar. From the display you can easily view contacts, watch the status of other phone users in your buddy list, and access all the features of the phone.

Polycom HD Voice Technology

Wideband HD voice is now available on the Soundpoint IP 670 and other models including the IP 650, IP 560, and IP 550. Anyone familiar with voice over IP will tell you that voice quality starts with the phones. Now with HD voice, Polycom’s already legendary voice quality is even better. HD voice provides twice the voice clarity of a traditional phone call. In addition, Polycom’s HD voice technology uses their patented Acoustic Clarity Technology 2 to process voice, cancel echo and reduce background noise. Enhanced quality ensures that every word is heard the first time, and conference calls are Chrystal clear!

While HD provides the best voice quality currently available there are some limitations. Current phone lines are limited to half the audio rate of HD voice. So, for now HD voice is confined to IP networks, however, users of this phone will still benefit from Acoustic Clarity Technology providing voice enhancement for both HD and non-HD conversations.

Gigabit Ethernet

The Soundpoint IP 670 ships standard with Gig-E and support for 802.3af power over Ethernet. For anyone working with bandwidth intensive applications on a gigabit network this is a must. Most IP phones are limited to 100-megabit Ethernet ports. Since IP phone users daisy chain their PC to their IP phone through the integrated two-port switch, a 100-megabit reduces a desktop’s network performance by ten on a gigabit network. Believe it or not, most IP phone manufactures are behind the power curve on this feature and do not offer integrated gigabit Ethernet through their phones. Polycom currently builds gigabit Ethernet into the Soundpoint IP 560 and Soundpoint IP 670 phones. One recent BitWare customer chose Polycom Sound IP 560 for their new BitWare Unified Communications Server phone system in large part because of this feature.

Conclusions

The Polycom Soundpoint IP 670 is one awesome phone! It’s difficult not to look cool with one of these sitting on your desk. The customizable color display is by far the most differentiating feature of this phone. Combined with a color sidecar this great looking phone becomes a highly expandable platform supporting up to 32 extension line keys and up to 42 displayable speed dials with presence. The integrated gigabit Ethernet is a must for any office with a high-speed network. HD voice is a great technology investment ensuring that your phone will be able to converse in wideband as the proliferation of convergence continues.

Pluses:

• Full duplex speaker phone
• Color Display
• Expandable supporting up to 3 14-button sidecars
• Acoustic Clarity Technology
• Wideband HD Voice Capable
• Power over Ethernet

Minuses:

• Wideband HD voice is limited to IP networks.

Sources

http://www.polycom.com/products/voice/desktop_solutions/soundpoint/desk_phones/soundpoint_ip670.html


Additional Information

BitWare Products Page: http://www.bitwaretech.com/products.html

BitWare Polycom Showcase: http://www.bitwaretech.com/polycom.html

Power Over Ethernet: http://blog.bitwaretech.com/2009/01/power-over-ethernet-commonly-referred.html

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Google Apps Premier

BitWare Technologies, LLC is working to expand our product offerings. As part of this effort we are establishing ourselves as authorized resellers of Google Apps Premier Edition. In order to complete our certification we must deploy 25 users. Therefore, we are reaching out to friends, customers and family to ask if you or someone you know would be interested in Google Apps Premier for their business. If you are already using Google Apps and would like to see a comparison between the free edition and the premier edition a comparison can be found here: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/editions.html

For a $50 per user annual license a business can:
-Replace their existing mail, collaboration, and messaging systems with a Google based software as a service solution.
-Reduce costs by eliminating support overhead associated with the maintenance of in house solutions.
-25GB of storage per user (enough space to archive hundred of thousands of e-mails)
-Access to the complete suite of Google Applications including advanced collaboration and video conferencing features.

For more information please feel free to call shoot us an e-mail at sales@bitwaretech.com

As always we are still very committed to the sale of our business phone systems and data network solutions. If you have a chance, please take a look at our products page and checkout our new Polycom Showcase while you are there:
http://www.bitwaretech.com/products.html

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Part 1: VoIP Technologies Every Business Should Know – POE

Power Over Ethernet, commonly referred to as POE, is a technology that provides power to devices attached to a data network. Defined by the 802.3af network standard, POE takes advantage of unused wire pairs in a network cable to transmit low voltage power.

POE is an ideal technology combined with IP phones. Here are some reasons why:

• One connection for both data and power reduces clutter under the desk
• Traditional phone systems can be replaced by IP without additional power connections.
• Mobility – Phones can easily be moved wherever a network connection exists.
• Safety – Provides lower voltage power than traditional 120-volt outlets.
• Provides uninterrupted power to phones when combined with a UPS.
• Phones can easily be remotely shut down by disabling power from the network switch. A handy feature when reboots are required to upload firmware changes.

Additional applications for POE include security cameras, wireless access points and other network devices. To discover how a POE enabled network and phone system can benefit your business please drop us a note at sales@bitwaretech.com.

Sources:
http://www.poweroverethernet.com/articles.php?article_id=52
http://standards.ieee.org/getieee802/download/802.3af-2003.pdf

Friday, January 9, 2009

What is Driving Convergence

A recent study by IDC finds that cost savings will drive the transition to hosted VoIP and VoIP trunking over the next couple of years.

"Essentially, the problem is that in many cases there is no current “problem” to fix. The “problem” essentially can be created, though. If a potential customer finds out that they are “overpaying” by quite some amount for their voice and broadband access services, that becomes a problem. "

The article even mentions services provided by Junction Networks, a BitWare approved provider of VoIP trunking services for Asterisk.

For those interested in the background, convergence is simply the transmission of voice and data across a single media. Traditionally, voice was transmitted across voice lines, or phone lines. This service is often referred to by telecommunications geeks as the Plain Old Telephone System or POTS. In the early 90's phone companies began offering a new type of network service know as the Integrated Services Digital Network or ISDN. ISDN came in two flavors, 128kb BRI and 1.5mb PRI. The great thing about ISDN was that it was the first technology to use channels for both voice and data.

In modern terms convergence is the transmission of voice, data, video, and anything else you can imagine across a data network -- either the Internet or a private network. Some great examples of convergence are the cable company providing broadband Internet, television, and phone service over cable; AT&T U-verse that sends television, phone, and Internet over DSL; and hosted voice services such as Vonage.

So, all this convergence stuff is really great, but how does that save a business money?

There are several methods available to achieve cost savings from converged technologies. In fact, for a new phone system there really is no other way to go from an ROI and feature benefit's perspective. For existing phone systems it really depends on the situation. However, generally speaking converged networks are less expensive to maintain, do not require multiple networks within a single building (i.e. a telephone network and separate data network), and offer features such a using the Internet to interconnect multiple phone systems, thereby bypassing the phone company (free phone calls between sites, woo hoo!).

Do you even like your current phone company?

Other advantages, such as least cost routing can also be leveraged. Having an IP capable phone system that can select traditional circuits for free local calls or cheaper IP trunks for international calling adds up to big bucks when the phone bills arrive. Using the provider that gives the best rate for a given calling scenario puts the power back into the customer's hands to negotiate a route that is most cost effective while putting pressure back on the phone companies to offer competitive rates.

If your business is intersted in a free phone bill analysis to determin if it is currently paying too much for voice services we would love to hear from you. Just drop us a note at sales@bitwaretech.com and someone will contact you shortly.

Sources:
http://www.ipbusinessmag.com/departments.php?department_id=7&article_id=481

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Device Management Updates for BitWare UCS

We are excited to announce the addition of directory management to the BitWare Unified Communications server through version 1.1 of our device management feature.

We pride ourselves in our ability to deliver Asterisk solutions to our customers with features that set us apart from our competition. Our device management feature, that configures and manages Polycom phones within the FreePBX extension module, is one of the value added features incorporated into our systems.

Our device management feature:

• Creates phone configurations in one easy step.
• Manages changes to existing configurations.
• Ensures that phones are configured consistently with a standard set of options.
• Saves configurations in the tftpboot server directory where they are uploaded by phones.
• Creates a central repository for phone configurations.


Directory File Management

Now in addition to managing phone registrations, our updated device management module also creates directory files. By default device management will create a new directory file for all of the devices registered to the system whenever a new phone is configured. By also checking the Generate Directory checkbox, device management will create a special directory file for that phone allowing accesses to the presence of other phones registered with the phone system through the Busy Lamp Field [BLF] feature available on many popular IP phones.

Device Presence

Device presence is a great feature for receptionists or other users who need to see the status of other phones in the office. This feature is even more exciting combined with the Polycom sidecar expansion module for the Soundpoint IP 601 and 650 phones. The sidecars, combined with presence, turn the phone into a full-featured attendant console capable of displaying the status of 46 or more extensions.

For more information about device management and the many other features of UCS please visit our products page at www.bitwaretech.com/products.

Please note this feature is currently available for Polycom phones. While we do not currently support other brands , the code is flexible enough to support other device brands upon request. If you are interested in incorporating device management into your Asterisk/FreePBX installation, or if you would like more information about our phone system please e-mail us at sales@bitwaretech.com. Of course for all of our existing customers under our support this is a free update.

Asterisk Continues to Grow in Popularity

Digium, corporate sponsor of the Asterisk open source telephony project, reports a record rise in Asterisk downloads. For 2008 over 1.5 million copies of Asterisk were downloaded marking a 50% increase in Asterisk distribution. According to Digium the increase stems from businesses searching for cost efective technologies in a dificult economy.

For businesses who have already discovered the wonderful features and cost savings associated with an Asterisk based phone system this should come as no surprise. Those who have not may be interested to learn that Asterisk is a full featured business phone system capable of Voice over IP as well as traditional voice services.

To learn more about Asterisk: www.asterisk.org

To find out about BitWare's Asterisk based phone systems: www.bitwaretech.com

Sources:
http://www.fiercevoip.com/story/digium-asterisk-downloads-50-2008/2008-12-17

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This Blog

Welcome to the BitWare Technologies LLC Voice Over IP and Technology blog.

The intent of this blog is to discuss business technologies focused on VoIP, convergence, Asterisk, and BitWare's products and services. Please feel free to e-mail questions, comments, or topic ideas to sales@bitwaretech.com

BitWare, a Michigan based technology solution company, provides services to small businesses and specializes in phone systems based on the Asterisk open source phone system, data networking and Voice over IP. Founded in 2005 by telecommunications and data network veterans, we are now in our fourth year of service. If you are interested in a voice solution please take a moment to view our product line at www.bitwaretech.com.