Which PBX to choose? Avaya or Cisco?


We are a small business with 15 employees and are recently reviewing some offers to upgrade our old Panasonic PBX to a new one. We have 14 employees in our main branch and another employee in a remote branch. We have 2 very competitive offers from Avaya for IP Office 500 with 14 digital 5410 phones and 1 IP phone for the teleworker and the offer from Cisco includes 2811 router running Cisco Communications Manager Express (CME) with 15 IP phones model 7911. One of the things that bothers me with Avaya is that their solution is not pure IP and they don't support SIP phones (only SIP trunking). On the other hand, their solution seems to have more features than Cisco's (the free Phone Manager Lite software for example) and I heard they keep updating IP Office with new features in each version (version updates are also free).

I need some help making a decision here, please share your thoughts & experience...

Thanks in advance,


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Hi Danny,

It is rather amusing to read that it bothers you that a phone is not IP rather than, say, a phone may not deliver voice quality or something else that has anything to do with what the phone is actually for - get you to hear the other person.

Look at the feature set first, support that the interconnect selling the system to you offers second, warranty third and then (maybe) the underlying technology.

For someone calling from outside a digital phone on a SIP trunk with incoming call route built for it will behave exactly as a standalone SIP phone would except you don't have to worry about powering it and you have access to all other types of trunks the system accepts and other system features.

Whatever system you chose, make sure you greatly lower your expectations of voice quality over a SIP trunk versus a PRI or even a good old analog line. If you receive your SIP trunks over anything other than the provider's own T1/Fiber/What have you/ be ready for call drops, echo, inability to complete a call and just about any other call problem you can think of - it'll be there at one time or another due to Internet's inherent issues with time-sensitive delivery.

Should I mention that you need CAT5E cabling for IP phones? Half of the clients I deal with forget this little detail - you cannot simply replace an old Panasonic with an IP phone system without having to redo or at least re-arrange the cabling first. Sometimes at a cost comparable to the cost of the new phone system.

Oh, BTW, I should have mentioned it earlier - I'm an Avaya guy :)

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Great points

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