We have been working with a company that was wavering between PBXware and Thirdlane. They have demos running of each option and are testing all of the features before making a final decision.
When testing inbound faxing (fax-to-email), the company ran into an issue on the Thirdlane demo. They reached out to Thirdlane support – it is worth mentioning here that their support department is just one person – who had no idea that their system even included inbound faxing. So much for troubleshooting the issue.
Fortunately, the testers were savvy enough to resolve the issue themselves, but left with a feeling of wariness about the utility of Thirdlane support.
Our Account Manager on the case made this poignant comparison: “If you bring your car in for an oil change only to find that the mechanic didn’t even know your car had an oil filter, you will be peeling out of there faster than you can say ‘rip-off’.”
In all seriousness, no platform is perfect and you are going to need support well beyond the initial purchase and installation. Don’t settle for anything less than an experienced, knowledgeable, and dependable team of support professionals.
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 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:
Existing users of Thirdlane’s Multi-Tenant PBX who have had reason to look further.
New Providers looking to start a business line with very little resource
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.
A 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 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.
Stay tuned for Thirdlane vs PBXware, Part 2: Cost of Entry and check out these other posts in the meantime:
After our previous Thirdlane post, we were slightly taken aback with the response we had. Some Thirdlane customers were so dissatisfied they wanted refunds. We are hearing from an increasing number of dissatisfied Thirdlane customers.
The more we speak with these Thirdlane customers, the more we come to understand that sooner or later that wall is hit and there seems no way round or beyond.
A good example is Unified Communications. The market wants it, is insisting on it, but there’s just a big gap. Where’s the gloCOM?
How does one scale? Where’s the billing integrated or held together somehow?
What about a provisioning platform?
It is, though, the cost of maintaining Thirdlane that seems to hurt. The cost of support.
However we’ll leave you to your own conclusions compared with:
To see is to believe.
The problem also is clear that the longer this goes on the more IPPBX customers will be stuck in one set of infrastructure and dissatisfied to the point they must look elsewhere.
So – what can we do to help ?
Here’s our offer:
Any deposit paid to Thirdlane in the past 3 months we will refund on purchase of a PBXware TELCO Solution from Bicom Systems.
Any existing deployment: we will provide conversion credits to assist.
We will also provide a transition roadmap to assist with the process.