Thirdlane vs PBXware, Part 1 : Limitations

thirdlaneIt is always with caution that one should speak of competitors and their products when clearly they are better able to do so themselves. All the more so with Thirdlane, given how respectfully Alex Epshteyn at Thirdlane has always spoken of PBXware.

I am often asked why to choose PBXware over Thirdlane and it seems only right to write.

Curious about this question is the clear circumstances in which it is asked. These can be described in three categories:

  1. Existing users of Thirdlane’s Multi-Tenant PBX who have had reason to look further.

  2. New Providers looking to start a business line with very little resource

  3. Well established businesses – either ITSPs, VARs or Long Established Sellers of Phone Systems

For the first group, Thirdlane customers have dial tone. However, their ITSP is now so busied with the running of the business that the cost of maintaining the system takes on greater importance.

It is very noticeable how few subscribers the pain threshold seems to bite. So often, fewer than 100 subscribers – a handful of customers. These, still quite new, Service Providers are also considering how to automate the monthly invoice run and, ideally, the provisioning of services.

thirdlaneA customer wants a Queue, a Conference, an IVR… Surely this should take no more effort than checking boxes to solve everything from the feature’s creation to the monthly invoice going out, right?

There also are issues of support. Again the sheer stress that happens once ‘real customers’ come on board and previously naive dreams are exposed. Answers need to be found immediately both to ‘how do I do x, y, z?’ questions and, less often, bugs or critical failings.

Increasingly the need for integration to the desktop is a make or break to getting End User businesses.  Whether in the form of onsite systems from the Traditional Vendors or the large Internet Telephony Service Providers often using Broadsoft platforms, the market at large expects standard offerings to have presence, chat and more at the finger tips. Mobility is next.

What has also been learned by bitter experience is problems that may be caused by trying to piece-on a third-party software just because you don’t have it yourself. This could be an Operator Panel, for example, that can be strung through the Asterisk Manager. There’s no choice, you have to do it. The customer is screaming at you. So you spend an hour to download it, install it, try it yourself, and thirdlaneanother hour to read the manual. You repeat that with the customer. Next day, the customer wants something that is missing … it is crashing … whatever happened to your sales plan that week?

For some though, there is the matter of scalability. To simply ‘add another server’ and ‘stick on another few hundred customers’ is not enough. All the customers need to be brought together in a single interface to be found easily and redundancy needs to be in clusters often with the options of dual location.

Stay tuned for Thirdlane vs PBXware, Part 2: Cost of Entry and check out these other posts in the meantime:

If you found this useful or can add, please feel free to post and of course visit our whitepaper on How to Start an ITSP or watch the video below.

Why should we choose PBXware MultiTenant PBX vs IPSMARX Multi Tenant PBX? (Part I : Limitations)

It is always with caution that one should speak of competitors and their products when clearly they are better able to do so themselves. All the more so with IPSMARX, given how IPSMARX has positioned itself ‘as’ Bicom Systems. I have though wondered more and more why they do so up against PBXware MultiTenant PBX. Here are some reasons that might help with understandings:

I am demanded to reply to this question orally on a weekly basis and it seems only right to write. Curious about this question too is the clear circumstances in which it is asked. These can be described in three categories: i) Existing users of IPSMARX’s Multi-Tenant PBX who have had reason to look further ii) New Providers looking to start a business line with little resource iii) Well established businesses either ITSPs, VARs or Long Established Sellers of Phone Systems.

For the first group, customers have dial tone. However the Service Provider’s hands are now so filled with the running of their business that the cost of keeping the system becomes all consuming. Very noticeable is with how few extensions on the system and the pain threshold seems to bite. So often, fewer than 100 subscribers – a pocketful of customers. A customer wants a Queue, a Conference, an IVR… then “surely this should need no more effort than a check-box selection to solve everything from the feature’s creation to the monthly invoice going out ?” Surely it should not need custom programming from the switch provider for each small tweak? There also are issues of support. Again the sheer stress that happens once ‘real customers’ come on board and previously naive dreams are exposed. Answers need to be found immediately both to ‘how do I do x,y,z ?’ questions and less often bugs or critical failings. Increasingly the need for integration to the desktop is a make or break to getting End User businesses.

Whether in the form of onsite systems from the Traditional Vendors or the large Internet Telephony Service Providers often using Broadsoft platforms the market at large expects standard offerings to have presence, chat and more at the finger tips. Mobility is next. Not just a breeze blowing softly but rushing winds. A simple SIP client is not where the world will be. Mobility means the user should be an integral part of the local switch.

What has also been learned through the school of hard knocks is problems that the next customer wants something unique. You never quite know what and unless the system is inherently flexible you will be left just listening to the screams. For some though there is the matter of scalability. To simply ‘add another server’ and ‘stick on another few hundred customers’ is not enough. All the customers need to be brought together in a single interface to be found easily and redundancy needs to be in clusters often with the options of dual location.

If you found this useful or can add please feel free to post, Parts II (Cost of Entry) & III (It has to work and it has to do more) are to follow and of course our whitepaper on How to Start an ITSP.

Other Articles on IPSMARX:

Thirdlane vs PBXware (Part II : Cost of Entry)

thirdlaneThe idea that Thirdlane is more cost effective or cheaper than PBXware is the single largest misconception that we have to deal with when customers are choosing between Thirdlane and PBXware MultiTenant with its softswitch capability.

To be clear, this is an issue confined uniquely to VoIP Entrepreneurs starting new businesses and facing many unknowns of how much market they will obtain. For Old Hacks, who have a little more certainty of their markets, revenues, and ROIs, the issue has long passed onto minimising the pain of managing a real business and getting the features that matter to customers.

Curiously, the point at which this turn seems to take place is low. 100 extensions and the burden of managing the Thirdlane platform appears to overwhelm Service Providers. Suddenly, the original investment that will never be recouped is gone. References available.

Here are some, well actually many items to consider about costs. Combined, we really do believe you will come to the agreement that the notion that Thirdlane costs less is simply not true:

  • ASSUMPTION: That because PBXware Multi-Tenant PBX has more features in a professionally organized manner – “it simply must be a greater cost” – just because PBXware has more features and functions does not mean it must be a more expensive product. Our business model is based around ‘Starting Partnerships’. We wish to work with those who have the local presence to take us further faster and will gladly work with you to get you started in your endeavor. Increasingly, we have many more products that can be put through distribution channels to help us both build later business.

  • The wish to get started at the lowest “base” becomes blinding: Almost as above, but we have time again seen start-ups so preoccupied with their status of ‘starting out’ that they seem almost compelled to try to ‘associate’ themselves with the most barebones infrastructure they can possibly find. Even though options are available for no more cost, and possibly less cost, that would provide them a base to reach to the stars and have in place the necessary architecture and structure that their businesses might move forward.

  • Bicom Systems simply has more: if you start to add up the options that Bicom Systems has : Telcoware Provisioning Platform, Integrated Telephony Billing, Desktop Applications, Call Center PBXs – then the total will increase. Comparing just the Thirdlane multi-tenant pbx product to PBXware, PBXware’s entry offer can be less upfront capital to get started.

  • Future Proof 1: Once your first server is filled, how to then expand the network in a seamless manner so that it is clear where each customer registration group is being kept.

thirdlane pbx

  • Future Proof 2: The investments needed to stay in this market are not decreasing. Mobile Integration, Desktop Integration, CTI, Alarm Monitoring, Call Center, Video… Each need dedicated teams and to sustain this requires large revenues that are only possible with the distribution of large systems.

  • Marketing: Any new business needs marketing material and ideally support in generating business. Bicom System provides extensive marketing material at source to its partners as well as market research and suggestions of positioning. Through case studies and internet marketing we have also been able to promote partners.

  • Support: Bicom Systems does not charge $175.00 / hour for support, it is a flat rate, unlimited support. $175.00 is of course no money at all to a startup ITSP‘if you assume you do not need support’. If, however, it is after your existing budget is eaten up and the customer is screaming at you and that customer is paying you $20 per month, the problem takes six hours to solve, then, suddenly, you don’t even have a business model and all the investment to date is beginning to look like sunk costs.

  • And then what?: It does not start and stop with getting a bit of software. The whole operation of running an ITSP raises questions. Not least ‘what the next customer wants’. Bicom Systems Account Managers exist to advise on that next customer and, if necessary, provide custom work.

  • TELCOware: The customer comes to your web site, they choose their subscription, enter their details, the money is taken, the account is provisioned, the order is sent to get the phones out in the post, and you are still in bed. Not yet ready for this dream, possibly – but it would be good to know it is ready for you when you are.

  • Making a Quick Decision does not mean Making a Bad Decision: As said above, Bicom Systems simply can give you more either today or as your business grows. We are very used to getting you started. We implore you, take a breath and let us do what we do best and find you a way to have the best platform from which to move forward. It may just save you from putting all your savings down sunk, then spending the next two years trying to work back to the same start position through agony, before having the investment to start again. If the words seem harsh – the references are available.

So, what is the answer? No idea :) Until we talk to you and get to know your business fully and properly.

Read the first part of this series here.

UPDATE 12/12: We reviewed the Thirdlane website again in hopes to update this post. Unfortunately the only update to their website is the removal of their prices.

Other posts on Thirdlane:

If you found this useful or can add, please feel free to post and of course visit our whitepaper on How to Start an ITSP or watch the video below.