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Ask Slashdot: Open Communications Set-Up For Small Office? 224

Posted by timothy
from the raising-your-standards dept.
New submitter earthwormgaz writes "I've started at a small company and our phone system is crusty, old, and awful. We've got email hosted elsewhere on POP/IMAP, and we've got no groupware. The server here is Windows small business whatever-it-is and Exchange isn't set up, but I've put CentOS on it in a VM, and I'd like to do everything using open standards and open source where possible. I've been looking at SOGO, and these phones. What are my chances of getting all this stuff working together? What other suggestions have people got a for a small office and communications?"
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Ask Slashdot: Open Communications Set-Up For Small Office?

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  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:33PM (#41551695) Homepage

    if you're starting a business, just about the last thing you should be doing is worrying about is being sysadmin for your phone system - let alone doing so according to the "right" political principles and hoping you can get it to work together. Call your local phone company, get setup with them or some other turnkey provider and turn your attention towards your business.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:37PM (#41551739)

      if you're starting a business,

      Nevermind RTFA, just RTFSummary. He started at a small company, NOT starting a small company.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alphax45 (675119)
      +1. Wish I had mod points for you. A business needs to ensure people can WORK and make money, not confirm to unrealistic ideals. Yes, sometimes you can make it work and I'm sure someone will cite a few cases but for the majority of people the turnkey is the best solution.
    • by kermidge (2221646) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:47PM (#41551833) Journal

      "I've started at a small company...."

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For fuck sake get someone else to do phones, contract it out. YOU DO NOT WANT THE SHITSTORM THAT WILL HAPPEN AS YOU ARE TUNING SOME ASTERIX DISTRO. Been there, done that because we "inherited" a crap tone of VOIP phones. Real phones sound better, work just as well, and cost less. It works OK now, but a crappy FXO and some VOIP phones are the very last thing you need.

      Sent from my Angry Sysadmin v2.0 running 8hours of overtime for a blown up breaker panel

    • by fm6 (162816) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:00PM (#41551955) Homepage Journal

      Absolutely correct. Alas, outsourcing any kind of IT is anathema to the typical geek.

      Once worked at small ISP (started in a guy's garage, and still pretty much his personal operation) where everything was internally developed: phone system, CRM, server status software... Needless to say, using these do-it-yourself tools was a nightmare.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gQuigs (913879)

      I'm commeting because I just moded you Overrated and it went up to 5... I was trying to demote your post...

      You need to reread the summary. He is starting work at a small company, not starting his own business. Who knows he may have been hired to do this as part of his job. Plenty of small business's need to have people with many hats on, so they might not be experts in everything they were hired to do.

      In addition, depending on the business optimizing the phone system might be essential to grow the busin

      • I'll be honest, I missed the "at" in the first line, too, so I recommended a COTS system for PBX. It's not worth the headaches unless you really have to be custom. And, if he was hired as a pbx roll-your-own guru and is asking here, he's already fucked.

        I do agree that more basic info is needed. Small = 8 people or 50? Phone loads? Email volume? Really, until you top 10-20 seats, farming everything out is going to be cheaper.

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:39PM (#41552335) Homepage

        I'm commeting because I just moded you Overrated and it went up to 5... I was trying to demote your post...

        That's a borderline abusive moderation - there is no "-1 Wrong" for a reason: The correct response to a post that is flat wrong is to reply to it (as you've now done) explaining exactly why the parent poster is wrong, not to try to suppress the incorrect comment. Among other things, this reduces the chance that another moderator comes along and thinks your -1 Overrated was simply unfair and votes up the wrong comment.

        • by steveg (55825)

          Now *this* deserves mod points.

        • by gQuigs (913879)

          Well, it looks like some others followed my lead on that (it's currently rated 3)

          Overrated
          Sometimes comments are disproportionately up-moderated—this probably means several moderators saw it at nearly the same time, and their cumulative scores exaggerated its merit. (Example: A knock-knock joke at +5, Funny.) Such a comment is Overrated.
          http://slashdot.org/faq/metamod.shtml [slashdot.org]

          I would think it being First Post, and moderators reading it to quickly qualifies as being disproportionately up-moderated.

          Also pe

        • by T Murphy (1054674)
          Modding someone down because you disagree is abuse, modding someone down because their post will derail the conversation is correct (that's why we mod down troll, offtopic, flamebait). Taken alone, the OP's comment could arguably seen as a troll, getting people to argue about a point that has nothing to do with the story at hand. Of course, the OP made an honest mistake, and even replied (as AC) admitting as such, so the parent tried to be nice and use "overrated" instead of "troll". I'm sure the OP would h
        • "That's a borderline abusive moderation - there is no "-1 Wrong" for a reason:"

          Wrong. There is an Overrated option for a reason, and if a post is modded highly when it clearly is completely off the mark based on a complete misinterpretation of the summary, then any positive rating is by definition and Overrating. There is no -1 Disagree, but this isn't a matter of opinion. This situation is exactly why -1 Overrated exists.

    • That kind of thinking is what leads to the very finest of vendor lock-in you could imagine down the road - and it's total bullshit. Investing a few hours of research and setup effort in a standards-based, transparent and reusable technical foundation for what is going to be the backbone of your company's communication both on the in- and outside for many years is definitely something to worry about - unless you have no problem whatsoever with buying your whole frickin' phone system all over again once you p

      • by swb (14022)

        I work at a SMB IT consulting company and I can't tell you how much money we make fixing "standards-based, transparent and reusable technical foundations".

        Usually they are crappy, low-end, unmaintained and undocumented piles of OSS whitebox dogshit that some self-styled guru implemented. Of course the solutions we replace this with are more expensive, but the owners are happy to pay because they recognize what a burden it is to be saddled with something like that.

        That being said, the OSS aspect of this isn

        • by c0l0 (826165) *

          I was not suggesting "crappy, low-end, unmaintained and undocumented piles of OSS whitebox dogshit" (torrents of foul language like that make me raise an eyebrow or two btw., esp. when you advocate the road to the mythical "stable", "proven" and "enterprise-ready" alternative in the next sentence...). But there ARE offerings that strike a sane balance between being based on standards that a multitude of vendors can implement and actually support, and come with enough handholding to get you off the ground wi

    • by js33 (1077193)

      if you're starting a business, just about the last thing you should be doing is worrying about is being sysadmin for your phone system - let alone doing so according to the "right" political principles and hoping you can get it to work together. Call your local phone company, get setup with them or some other turnkey provider and turn your attention towards your business.

      Now that's a kneejerk response if I ever saw one.

      The "right" political principles have absolutely nothing to do with a business case for

  • Zimbra? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:37PM (#41551741)

    If you don't mind paying for a product (and don't want to use Google Apps), take a look at Zimbra:

    http://www.zimbra.com/products/index.html [zimbra.com]

    It has an Outlook plugin so your Windows users will be happy, and it speaks Activesync, so any smartphone should be able to sync email contacts and calendar with it.

    I haven't used Zimbra for a few years, but last time I used it it worked quite well -- much easier to set up and administer than Exchange, and cheaper too.

  • PBX In a Flash (Score:5, Informative)

    by jerpyro (926071) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:39PM (#41551751)

    I've had good luck with PBX in a flash. You can run it on a small atom server for small numbers of people: http://pbxinaflash.net/ [pbxinaflash.net]
    It works well with the Cisco SPA series phones: http://www.cedarpc.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=24600 [cedarpc.com]

    You can use things like SugarCRM and OpenFire with it. Share documents with MSOffice and a Subversion repository (you can probably even install SVN on the phone server). That's really all you should need to start a small company -- you don't have to think big yet, and when you do you should pay someone else to worry about it so that you can do the important stuff that goes with running a company.

  • Asterisk may not solve all your problems, but if you are using VoIP phones and know Linux this might be an option. Plus it is open and fully customizable. Might be worth a look. http://www.asterisk.org/ [asterisk.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you do it at no cost, the boss doesn't view that as a win for the company. He views it as suspicious, because where he comes from, spending is the key to getting somewhere, and everything costs something. In fact, he judges employees on how much they make (especially if he is new to the company), not how much they get done. It makes perfect sense to him, no matter what you think. To the boss, money is the bottom line to everything.

    Let's put it this way. If your startup finds themselves hard on cash and n

    • You have just explained government spending in a nutshell.

    • If you do it at no cost, the boss doesn't view that as a win for the company. He views it as suspicious, because where he comes from, spending is the key to getting somewhere, and everything costs something.

      This is why you never bill FOSS as no cost. It isn't no cost, it is no licensing cost. It still costs time, hardware, training, and support. (Yes, you can buy support for FOSS. I have only found two times when I could not.) When you present the two options, you list System A with theses features, and this cost, implemented over this time verses System B with those features, and that cost, implemented over that time. It is not free, but it will give more function for less money. Business majors can un

  • Not terribly hard to set up and maintain. For phones not so sure, asterix and openSER are very heavy pieces of software don't know of any minimalist SIP server
    • Askozia used to be. If you can find some old 2.1 images still around, you can use the, Also, pfSense with the freeswitch plugin is fairly lightweight. And for the full deal, you don't get leaner than this. http://www.rowetel.com/blog/?page_id=440 [rowetel.com]

      It actually is not that demanding of the hardware.
  • by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness@yahooWELTY.com minus author> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:50PM (#41551861) Homepage Journal
    1. Keep POP3/SMTP access; if necessary enable LDAP.
    2. Use something like Google Apps for Business - includes e-mail (POP3/SMTP/LDAP) and Calendaring; $50/user/year.
    3. Stay away from Outlook if you can help it; if you can't then at least stay as far away from Exchange as you possibly can. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches in the process. And if you can, enable your users to use Thunderbird (with Lightening if you want Calendaring); it can access LDAP and Directory Services for a unified address book too if you like.
    • I don't understand this.

      He already paid the money for Microsoft Small Business Server. He gets Exchange and an Outlook client for each machine as part of the purchase.

      Since you already bought it, why aren't you using it? My company has been using Exchange 2010 for a couple years now. It has been rock solid for 40 users.

      There may be reasons to avoid it in a larger organization, but in a small one, why not? Active Sync for getting email on phones and other devices has worked flawlessly for us.

      Setup WS

      • How easy is it to migrate elsewhere? With SOGO, the server-side state is all either stored in formats that make it easy to export, or in some other application (e.g. your IMAP server). If you decide in 3 years time to move to something that better suits your business needs then it's easy and cheap. If you want to migrate from Exchange (preserving email history, calendars, and so on) then how easy is it? You should always consider the cost of migrating away from a product when you chose it.
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:34PM (#41552265) Journal

        First off Exchange is the most complicated and evil thing ms has ever made next to sharepoint. You dont need it! Here is why?

        You dont just install it. The product actually alters AD itself at the schema level! So lets say you forget to raise the forest level in your domain as you just installed Server 2003. I bet you nooobs didnt know Server 2003 runs as Server 2000 forest and domain by default?! Somethin non win admins commonly make.

        Oops just reinstall right? Nope AD has now been corrupted at the schema level and all users cant receive email anymore. Not even a tape backup can save you. Now imagine you have it working? How can people send you email? You get a ton of error messages when installing your cas outlook on the web about it not having a certificate?! Oh now you to create a Sans certificate. Now you need to register your web server so people can email you. What? You have to create a freaking IIS server too??

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:54PM (#41551901) Homepage Journal

    So many people here are assuming they understand your requirements better than you do, and those are the ones who could successfully parse TFS.

    I run an opensource stack in-house because I need to customize what it does for my needs. None of the hosted products would work for me, and software freedom isn't something I throw under the bus for short-term gain. Currently it's a postfix/MailScanner/SpamAssassin/sqlgrey/dovecot/sasl/davical/asterisk/freepbx stack, but I've also never seen Sogo before, so thanks for linking that. I've been meaning to integrate Fumambol/SyncML and that does it built-in, so cool.

    The other product I've considered is formerly-BBS-software Citadel [freecode.com], but I'm sufficiently suspicious of monolithic software to have not tried it out in production (the Unix way seems better). Sogo does more, though, so that raises the activation energy a bit.

    On the phones side, I'm looking to replace the FreePBX system because it's increasingly buggy as new versions come out. There was a good interview with the 2600Hz folks on FLOSS Weekly recently about Kazoo [github.com]. Their docs are very targeted towards a cloud-hosted version, which is fine, but I also haven't put in the energy yet to do a local install without docs. But it's on my very short-term list.

    They seem to be headed in the right direction at least. Intergrating Sogo with Kazoo might be a nice direction and it doesn't seem like either community would be adverse.

    Grandstream phones have the best bang for the buck, but aren't always quirk-free. That said, with a few tweaks they're very reliable and very cheap compared to Avaya. Their better models also embed linux, so I like to support them with my cash for doing so.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      . Currently it's a postfix/MailScanner/SpamAssassin/sqlgrey/dovecot/sasl/davical/asterisk/freepbx stack, but I've also never seen Sogo before, so thanks for linking that. I've been meaning to integrate Fumambol/SyncML and that does it built-in, so cool.

      So, how much time do you spend tinkering with your IT, and how much does that take away from growing your business? If your primary goals are to geek out and fight the good "software freedom" fight, well, that's your choice. But most small business owners have to give priority to making the payroll, covering the rent, paying themselves enough to live on, and other boring stuff.

      • So, how much time do you spend tinkering with your IT, and how much does that take away from growing your business?

        You forgot to quote this part:

        I run an opensource stack in-house because I need to customize what it does for my needs.

        My business isn't possible with proprietary software.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          And which specific customizations do you need. Not customizations you think are cool, mind you. As the parent said to the 5 year old, you need to learn the difference between need and want.

    • Grandstreams are inexpensive, work fine and are generally simple to configure, but for some of the low-end ones I've seen phone system upgrades that simply dropped the older low-end devices (e.g. BLF strobing stopped working and nobody was bothering to determine why). I know of one site that's using Yealink phones that they're pretty happy with so far (only a few months in). I've heard a variety of complaints about another (Aastra?) being a real headache to configure.

      For email, there are many options one of
  • Phones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:55PM (#41551907) Homepage Journal

    The last time i worked in an office, there was no phone on my desk. If my boss wanted me, he IMed me.

    • In my last small office, I just yelled down the hall, or walked over. Still, clients like to talk to people, and engineers need to call out at times, so we had phones.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        When I needed to call out, I used my cell. Sales, marketing, and support did indeed have phones. But this was a small cloud technology company, and they had the notion that internal IT should be as lean as possible.

        Desktop phones are one of those things that stay around through bureaucratic and social inertia. On my previous gig, the guy I was working for forgot to order a phone put in my cube. No biggie — the only thing I needed it for was dialing into conference calls, and I could use Skype for that

  • by liquidweaver (1988660) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @02:58PM (#41551933)

    You need to really be concerned about the following:
    1.) Provisioning the equipment. I don't know how "small" a small office is, but this is going to spiral out of control quickly if you don't have an elegant way to setup handsets and make changes.
    2.) Your change from circuit switched to packets. There are a lot of discussion points here, but the biggest you need to be aware of is latency is king. You might have a really slick p2p setup with OpenSWAN on 2 high bandwidth, cheap DSL or cable connections, but the jitter will kill you.
    3.) How does your voice come in? If you are under contract and you have a PRI or some TDM circuit, you have to consider how you will interface that, and the cards you will need, or the SIP gateway you'll buy are not cheap.
    4.) Who is going to manage the call routes, system secuity. I'm well versed with Asterisk, and you'll not find an all inclusive interface unless you go the Digium SwitchVOX route. If you don't pay close attention to security up front, you will experience toll fraud pronto.
    5.) Handset support. What are you going to do for replacement parts, who is going to setup all the buttons, etc.
    6.) Codecs. Some of the best are not free, i.e. G729. Just about any handset you get will support G711, but 12 bits of fidelity at 64k/sec each way (plur overheard for UDP/RTP) is not that great.
    7.) Voice prompts, auto attendants, voicemail, etc.
    8.) Status/BLF lights on phones. There isn't really a standardized way to do this, but SIP's Subscribe/Notify is used by some, I think Aastra.
    9.) Key system habits. You won't be able to "pick up Line 2".

    If I haven't scared you out of it yet, Aastra and Snom make excellent, RFC 3261 compliant handsets, Asterisk is a lot better than it used to be, and there are some alterntives you might find interesting like FreeSwitch or YXA.

    Good luck.

  • If it's a small office, and everybody has computers, I'd be tempted to use something like SoGo for interoperability. But for communications other than email, I'd say screw phones, PBXes, etc. For intra-office comm use a good IM program. If you're on Apples, you have about 3 different ways to do voice or video chat, if typing isn't your style. For outside the office, just put everybody on Skype or one of the open source alternatives. Between Skype and cell phones you probably are covered.

    For $50 / year, e
    • I should add that at the last (non-home-) office at which I worked, we had those Avaya phones. And almost never used them. Even when communicating with the remote office we used IM most of the time. Between that, cell phones, and Skype, we often ended up forgetting how to even dial out on the Avaya phones.
  • by DogDude (805747) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:01PM (#41551961) Homepage
    Just pay for hosted Exchange. Unless you're running an email company, you should not be worrying about what software your email/groupware is using. Save your high principles for when you're making a profit.
  • Shoretel [shoretel.com] uses open source and open standards tools. They do hosted or turnkey installs. I've been trying to get our office to upgrade from our existing Nortel Meridian Option 11 system for the last four years and my research into it has found mostly good things about them.
  • by vinn (4370) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:07PM (#41552035) Homepage Journal

    My background is telecom and I have a lot of experience in that. My recommendation is to go with a hosted solution.

    DO NOT INSTALL ASTERISK YOURSELF AND THINK YOU'RE GETTING A PHONE SYSTEM FOR FREE. You'll just waste time having to configure hardware, software, and dumb things like tuning analog POTS lines or wonking around with dial plans or something that you probably have no idea how to do.

    Ok, back to the hosted idea. Let's compare the big costs with a traditional PBX and a hosted PBX:

    1. Phones - you're really not going to avoid this cost. Budget $200 per phone set and be happy if you come in less. Remember, cheap phones are cheap for a reason. Spend the money and get a handset with a nice weight to it and a speakerphone that works well. If you get a traditional PBX like the Avaya system you looked at, there's a good chance you're looking at purchasing proprietary phones. If it's hosted, I recommend Polycom. Whether you have hosted or a traditional PBX, this will be one of your biggest costs.

    2. The PBX itself will be a big cost. Avoid this by not buying one and going with a hosted solution.

    3. The maintenance/service contract is the third huge cost, regardless of whether you go with hosted or traditional PBX. You're really not avoiding it with a hosted solution, in fact it might even be slightly more expensive, but you're paying for it month to month.

    Since you can probably start small and grow into most hosted solutions, switch your conference phone over first and make everyone use it. You'll find out quickly if the call quality will work or if people have complaints.

    Quality of service will be an issue with a hosted solution, so make sure you have bandwidth and if you need to set up real QoS on your router, know how to do that.

  • by tepi90 (2745495) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:09PM (#41552067)
    Get everybody a cheap mobile phone with a business plan or agree to pay $50/month if they use their own phone (most people will). Move your email, calendar and documents to Google Apps or similar. And then focus on your real business.
    • Get everybody a cheap mobile phone with a business plan or agree to pay $50/month if they use their own phone (most people will).

      This is not a bad suggestion.

      Just make sure the business owns the phone numbers at the very least. If somebody leaves for some reason, you don't want him/her to leave with the phone number that everybody has in their rolodex.

    • Maybe, but a lot of important information was left out of the question, like what kind of small office it was. If this is a 4 hours a day on the phone kind of business, cell phones would be a bad idea. If two or three people could call the main office at once, cell phones are a bad idea. If people are commonly going to be out of the office, yet need to be reachable, then cell phones are a good idea.

  • (1) as a contractor to come in and redo your systems to some open standards since you clearly do not even know what version "what-ever-it-is" is running and says your not much of a system admin. A system that is virtually automated and you get two hours of training. Now if you purchase an extremely overpriced support contract you will have 24/7 remote support and a 2 hour onsite visit during business hours. If you opt out you can do emergency support for $15K per incident.

    or

    (2) Hire an actual Sys Admin t

  • by harryk (17509) <harryk20022002@yahoo . c om> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:14PM (#41552107) Homepage

    If you've already purchased and using (albeit only barely) Microsoft SBS, take advantage of Exchange before you spend any more money on a new system, otherwise you're just wasting money. Exchange works quite well, obvious straight-forward connectivity with the Outlook client. Administering Exchange isn't the end of the world, and is actually quite easy in an SBS environment. I would suggest setting up an alternate internal smart-host (smart-relay) so that you don't have to expose the Exchange server directly to the internet. Courier MTA works VERY well (and is the exact setup we have internet->courier->exchange).

    Setting up a Jabber IM server internally is easy as well, otherwise use Google Apps and have your email domain hosted there and just use Google Talk with the various AV plugins.

    Setting up Switchvox (Asterisk) is a purchase, but I 2nd the comment by others to find you a local phone service retailer and let them deal with phone integration. If you do decide on a hosted solution for email and voice (voip) then make sure you don't skimp on the internet connectivity. I worked at a place previously convinced VOIP was the way to go, but management would cringe every time you talked about capacity of the external connection and the need to upgrade.

    Just my 2cents...

    • Google Apps is the extreme oposite of open source.
      Not only is it closed-source, but you actually depend on a particular service provider for both your tools and your data.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:18PM (#41552129)

    Please make sure the system is well documented, easily maintained, professionally supported, and doesn't require a sysadmin's level of knowledge just to figure out how it works. Maintaining the phone system should only take up a trivial amount of my time.

    Signed,

    The guy they hired after you moved on

  • If you have less than a dozen or so, consider a cheap, closed source, COTS system, like TalkSwitch. It will take you 2 hours to set it up, and you'll spend 2-4 hours a year (yes, a year) managing it. Yes, it's limited, but for $200 a user you can have a real pbx system with no fuss, no muss, and no monthly fees (except the actual phone lines). As a bonus, it can also forward calls to your remote workers.

    If you have enough business to have employees, you have enough work that spending nights and weekends c

    • He said "open source", not merely "free", so one might assume he wants this because of principles and not out of cheapness.
      At my office we have no lack of funds for hardware, but we still use open source software only. This isn't uncommon in places where the high-ups care.

  • My company recently migrated to a computer-based phone system.

    1. Handsets are much preferable to headsets, if you use the phone only occasionally.
    I went from *pick up the handset* to
    a. don the headset, trying not to snag the cable on the stuff on my desk, notably including a mug of tea.
    b. hunt down the pop-up with the Answer button
    c. plug in the headset leads because I forgot to do that when I came in
    d. hope the other party hasn't given up yet.

    2. Don't buy the Counterpath Bria product. It chops up your conv

  • Use XMPP for chat, and voice+video.

    A big plus is that it's federated, so you can talk to Google Apps users, and other XMPP users out there.
    XMPP also has voice+video, so you can actually get rid of those old phones and just voice-chat through it (this is a matter of taste, but I think soft-phones have their pros).

    In my experience, several clients will use the LAN to stream (intead of proxy on the internet) if both partys are in the same LAN, so you'll have very low latency and won't use up internet bandwidth

  • by tgd (2822) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:45PM (#41552429)

    Cobbling together things rarely makes sense unless your time is free or you need something the various providers don't support.

    IMO, unless you're going 100% open source for some philosophical reason, you can't beat the combination of Office365 and Windows InTune.

    ~$35 a month (O365 E3+InTune) per user gives you centralized desktop policy management, hosted e-mail, document sharing via Sharepoint, enterprise SA for Windows (so you can use/mandate Bitlocker, DirectAccess, and get free upgrades to Windows 8, etc), desktop software management (pushing out updates, new software, etc), Office Professional Plus, and Lync with telephony support. Another $20-$30 a month per user and you'll have direct dial in and out supported, with automated attendant, voicemail, and everything else, all in the cloud, all managed by one person via a web browser. Pay another $40 for your sales guys and you can flip on CRM. Hell, its worth it just to avoid dealing with all the "I forgot my password to our file sharing service" questions.

    IMO, you could run IT comfortably for a knowledge-worker-centric small business with 30-40 people with one guy if you use the right infrastructure. And you won't have your infrastructure fall apart when the guy who cobbled together your stuff quits. A real small business and one person a couple hours a month could probably maintain it if they can follow directions.

    Seriously, focus on your business, not this kind of crap.

  • by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:58PM (#41552551)

    What version of SBS is it running?

    SBS 2003/2007/2011 includes the following;

    Exchange
    Sharepoint

    So in all actuality, you should have Groupware and your own E-mail server.

    For IM, I would recommend OpenFire, since it integrates with AD.

    Using something out of principal when something else has already been purchased means you are setting the company up to fail, unless you can quantify a business need or reason to move away from what they have already purchased, outside of your own principals.

    • by Kr1ll1n (579971)

      Also worth mentioning, and that I had forgotten to provide, was that many CLECs (business ISP's) offer hosted VOIP solutions, so if you are serious about this business, use what you have already (SBS Exchange and Sharepoint for e-mail and groupware) and then contact your provider if it is a business targeted ISP to talk to them about VOIP solutions.

  • ...doesn't mean you should.

    I work for a company that provides VoIP and data services (the kind of company the OP should be calling). We have some damn good sysadmins, who can run everything from Asterisk to Postfix. But we don't. Internally, we use an off-the-shelf Asterisk implementation with a nice interface, and for email, hosted Exchange on one domain and Google stuff on the other. We could write our own ticketing system, but we use a hosted solution. It costs us far less to pay for some of these h

  • For such a key business tool as a phone system, I would not rely on open source. I would purchase a system that has a good support tack record and that was easy to manage.

    One of the last projects that I worked on for my previous company was to deploy a new VOIP phone system to a 100 person office. The vendor equipment that we used was ShoreTel. They have fairly inexpensive systems and an app that integrates into Outlook that shows you any incoming calls, voice mail, etc. They have also developed a mobile to

  • ok, so you've just turned on virtualization on your SBS server. you just broke it. Microsoft supports SBS installed as a GUEST but not as a HOST for virtualization. this is all over the microsoft knowledge base and the SBS Blog (blogs.technet.com/b/sbs) you'd best read up on SBS Best Practices before you make your server any worse. www.sbsbuilddoc.com
    • That is overkill. This is for IT pros and not small business owners. Exchange will fuck up your schema too in AD so be careful. If you are a small business. Just use Google Docs or ISP with a managed Exchanged environment.

      Infact you do not even need a domain! Just Windows 7 home. 10 users can easily connect to a SAN device or a shared folder using the home edition. SBS and AD are really for 20+ to hundreds of users. He is small and starting out not to mention the big ISP providers have Exchange relays which

  • Whilst it's a noble thing to want to go open source and take it all on yourself, you can save yourself a major headache by going SaaS instead. I originally setup a XenServer running VMs for Endian Firewall for routing, Zimbra for groupware and Asterisk / Trixbox for the phones. It was, to say the least, a pain in the ass to support, and there's no place to hide when you're the sole admin for a system you setup yourself.

    About 8 months ago I got sick of the distraction it was causing from my main role, and no

  • OMG - run away from Avaya. I've got that now, and I can't stand it. Throw Trixbox CE into a Proxmox VM and buy some Aastra phones - run it over the Internet with a decent bonded T1 server and sipstation.com

    Then install Horde/IMP, and whatever other modules you want for your groupware - on top of Dovecot IMAP (with LDAP Auth) - and your favorite SMTP. I prefer Qmail, so I use Matt Simerson's email toaster as a basis (www.tnpi.biz)

    I had the choice of converting email or sticking with Exchange - I wish

  • I am guilty of posting after a few beers so mod me down as I deserve ...

    Slashdot is definitely the wrong place to pose this question as you may have already realised - if an open source god didn't exist then slashdot would have invented one

    My two cents? Take the path of least resistance. Choose the best thing you think you can successfully deliver on time to make the business work. When you have more time you can make things work better - if they don't work in the first place then no one will care about y

  • by illtud (115152)

    Here's a vote for SOGo - I haven't tried the Outlook integration, but I'd stick to Thunderbird (ESR) and it works well, gives you corporate address book, calendaring with invites etc, swish web calendar/mail and mobile integration across all the usual suspects (athough they recommend some pay-for sync apps, I've managed without quite happily - n900 syncing was more involved but I've got it working). inverse.ca are good to work with if you need commercial support (just a happy customer). We use dovecot &

  • "but I've put CentOS on it in a VM"

    *Facepalm*

    Place Windows in a VM on Centos. Otherwise your Linux uptime is a derivative of your windows Uptime. Which is typically crap.

    - Dan.

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