Here at ITP we do not install phone systems. We have, however, been hired to write requests for proposals for companies looking for a communications platforms and as such have a fairly in depth view of the industry while remaining impartial.
My only loyalty note is I myself have done contract work for Cisco system phone division in Seattle at one point and have experience with most the major modern platforms. I also lead an in house project to make a selection for a midsized law firm.
Having established that background– one of the first solutions I evaluated was TDS Metrocom’s ManagedIP product. The offering is compelling for time strapped organizations looking for enterprise class features without the up front cost of purchasing a unified communications platform. Like all products I believe each has their fit. I think managed IP solutions would work well for small 5 and under individual offices who really need the features and don’t have the time to manage their own MAC’s (Indistry term for “Moves, Adds, Changes”. I have never seen a selection make the decision to go managed IP in an office with 10 or more phones from purely a cost standpoint.
Whenever you use a hosted product of this nature your paying to not have pain. In this case to not have to worry about programming your phones or managing additional equipment.
Here is my problem. MAC on new systems are very easy to do through web based interfaces and admin training is always included by the installer. Even an expensive system for this price point on a 3 year lease (often with APR deals to get the business, Cisco, Avaya etc. all have leasing arms) means your saving significant money in years 1-3 and have a nearly free system thereafter. Modern phone systems should last 5 – 8 years. Even if your in a close 5 year cycle I think the numbers are not in ManagedIP’s favor. ManagedIP sellers will say your Cisco system will need constant work and the bills will keep coming. While operating system upgrades are suggested I have seen Cisco platforms run for literally years on end without restart or upgrade. If you do need a new service release find a Cisco provider who will do that update for a flat fee.
Other considerations with hosting your phones is that often your custom software is looking for a TAPI system or something on the LAN itself for phone integration. TDS’s managed IP does have software to look for any HTML formatted numbers like your iphone but may limit your ability to billback clients for calls or use a dialer in a piece of software.
One other note if you are running Windows Small Business Server beware that TDS’s equipment will possibly “accidentally” turn on DHCP to look for phones and when it does your SBS server will shut DHCP down and individuals will slowly lose network connectivity. Make sure they setup their phones on a completely different subnet and VLAN. Meaning if your computers are at 192.168.0.X the phones should be at 192.168.100.X
When selecting a non manged system really analyze how you use the phones. Do not assume that a new system will have the same features as your 25 year old system. Also make sure you involve the big 3, Cisco, Avaya and Shortel. First of all involving them will allow each vendor to drop their price as they all have competitive pricing plans when “X” is in the bidding. It is important to really evaluate the big brands like Cisco and weigh them against newer entrances like Shortel.
If your office is struggling with the decision consider hiring a 3rd party to help you navigate the sales talk and don’t ever buy a phone system from a sales person who says “Oh this phone system does everything”. Hiring a 3rd party can often save you more than their cost for their expertise just in cutting through to the bottom line.
As always find a solution that best fits your needs and long term goals. ManagedIP might be a good bridge but I don’t think its the future. Sorry you spent all that money on broadsoft switches TDS…..