Looking Through the Door of VoIP…

Okay, I know these titles are starting to sound stupid. 🙂

I did pass the CCNA Voice exam yesterday. It was almost all multiple-choice with only a couple of drag n’ drop questions, and most of the questions had answers that were very logical. It wasn’t like the CCNA R&S where you had to actually configure things, so that made it quite a bit easier. I did encounter a couple of questions where they played word games, where if you didn’t read the Q&A carefully, you’d get it wrong.

And as much as I was ready to close the door to VoIP and move on with my CCNP R&S studies, I can’t quite do that just yet. I still haven’t completed the VoIP design proposal that I was working on for one of my clients because I keep running into brick walls as I research more and more. With the design, I wanted to try as hard as I could to move them from TDM to VoIP while keeping the monthly cost close to or hopefully lower than what they’re paying now.

They would like to have integration with Office 365, and the whole company practically lives out of MS Outlook. I encountered three different models: hosted Lync-to-Phone, on-site Lync, and various on-site Cisco methods. The problem with the hosted model is the monthly cost is more than what they’re paying now by about 60%, though the only equipment investment would be the phones. The only reason I was starting to consider the on-site methods is because, while the up-front cost was higher, over the course of perhaps two years it would be cheaper than the monthly bill of a hosted plan. I originally rejected Cisco purely based on the up-front cost. The on-site Lync method was starting to look good until I got to the ridiculous licensing part. They are running a Server 2003 AD infrastructure, and Lync 2013 requires 2008 or 2012, so they’d have to upgrade. Lync 2013 also requires a Server 2012 installation to run on. BUT, you can’t run Lync 2013 on the domain controller, so you have to buy a minimum of two Server 2012 licenses (not to mention having to re-buy all the CALs). Clearly, this is not geared toward a small business or really any business under perhaps 100 users.

So now I’m back to looking into Cisco solutions, and I think I may have found one that will do what they require with the Cisco Business Edition 3000 UC platform. I found it for sale for around $1,000. Lync Server 2013 is about $3,600 by itself, and two copies of Server 2012 are around $850 each (plus $30 per CAL). Additionally, Cisco has quite a wide range of IP phones to choose from, whereas there are only a few phones that support FULL Lync capability.

As it is, no matter what solution I go with, I was going to have the company buy a 48-port Cisco Catalyst 3560 or 3750 PoE switch to support the phones. I certainly do like the idea of the phones being able to use CDP (even though I know the Lync phones can use LLDP-MED).

So that leads me to where I am now. I’m researching the features and functionality of the Cisco BE 3000, and I know that it supports SIP trunking. And I know their ISP & Phone provider is capable of providing a SIP trunk. I have a general overview of what a SIP trunk is and what it does. But how much do I really know about it? Not enough yet to be comfortable working it into a design proposal.

So I found what looks to be an excellent book on Cisco Press called SIP Trunking. Notes to follow. 🙂