Thirdlane vs PBXware (Part II : Cost of Entry)

thirdlaneThe idea that Thirdlane is more cost effective or at least cheaper than PBXware is the single largest misconception that we have to deal with when customers are considering a choice 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 & 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 so low. 100 extensions and the burden of managing the Thirdlane platform appears to have 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 notion that Thirdlane costs less, simply is not true:

  • ASSUMPTION that because PBXware MultiTenant PBX has more features in a professionally orgnaised manner – “it simply must be a greater cost- just because PBXware has more features and functions that 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 endeavour. Increasingly we have many more products that can be put through distribution channel 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 infastructure 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. Like for like to ‘just the Thirdlane’ multitenant 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.
  • 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 exisiting 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 monies are 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 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.

For those reading this looking for further reading, you may wish to try : How to Start an ITSP

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:

The Side You Should Be ‘Aware-Of’ in this Business…

The technical side of a modern phone company…

As a developer and network engineer, understanding the way today’s hosted phone systems works is a fairly easy task. Yet such a profile is not found in every person that is willing to start in this business. In general, there are two profiles that look to start in this business more often:

Continue reading

Thirdlane vs PBXware (Part I : 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 Thridlane 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:

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

ii) New Providers looking to start a business line with very little resource

iii) Well established businesses either ITSPs, VARs or Long Established Sellers of Phone Systems

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

Very noticeable is with 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 to considering how to automate the monthly invoice run and ideally the provisioning of services.

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 ?”

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, another 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.

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.

Read the second 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: