Once a year we like to step back and survey the latest and greatest VoIP developments for the coming year. And 2016 was certainly filled with surprises including the release of free versions of 3CX sporting the PIAF5 and Elastix 5.0 monikers. That, in turn, produced a wave of FUD from our friends at Sangoma® urging users to return to their open source roots. But guess what? Sangoma was pitching their FreePBX Distro®, another closed source product just like 3CX. Sure, the Sangoma distro has open source components… just like 3CX and your car for that matter. But it’s disingenuous to diss other products because they’re closed source platforms when yours is too. So today we want to cut through the sales pitches and compare apples to apples while offering our Elastix friends this New Year’s Day Resolution:

Ignore the Hype! Look Before You Leap and Avoid Jumping from the Kettle into the Fire.


NEWS FLASH: For PIAF3 and Incredible PBX users who have registered on the PIAF Forum, you’ll be getting an invitation to upgrade to the 8-simultaneous-call 3CX commercial platform at no cost. In addition to unlimited extensions, this one-year license adds unlimited SIP trunks and gateways, 10-participant conferencing, G.729 support, custom FQDNs, BLF support, Call Parking, Call Queueing, Call Pickup, Call Recordings and Management, Call Reporting, Intercom/Paging, remote 3CX bridging support, as well as an integrated fax server and Office 365 and Microsoft Outlook integration. If you haven’t already joined the PIAF Forum, there’s still time. But you’d better hurry.

Choosing a VoIP platform is partially a subjective decision, but there also are some glaring red flags to consider. We suggest you begin by deciding whether your preferences include any must-have’s. Do your requirements mandate an open source solution? Do you need text-to-speech and voice recognition? Does the platform have to include Asterisk®, or are you open to alternatives? Does the operating system have to be Linux-based and, if so, must it be CentOS, Debian, or Ubuntu? If you’ll be using SIP phones, must the platform include phone provisioning software for your phones, or is the ability to purchase it as an add-on sufficient? Is paid support important in making your platform decision and how much are you prepared to pay? Are automatic or pain-free software updates critical in making your selection? Is migration from an existing platform a factor? Does a preconfigured, secure firewall matter, or are you prepared to do it yourself or take your chances? Before choosing to ignore security, read last month’s RIPS analysis of FreePBX®. Here’s a snippet from the article. Read it carefully. It’s your phone bill.

Since FreePBX is written completely in PHP, we decided to throw it into our code analysis tool RIPS. The results were more than surprising…

The total amount of detected vulnerabilities is very high. Luckily, the majority of the detected vulnerabilities are inside the administration control panel, such that attackers either need to steal a valid account or they have to trick an administrator into visiting a malicious website that triggers one of the critical vulnerabilities. For example, a remote command execution vulnerability could be triggered by a less critical cross-site scripting vulnerability. By chaining both vulnerabilities, the severity is increased drastically and can lead to full server compromise.

In choosing which platforms to include today, we eliminated platforms which we considered too complicated for the average new user to configure. We also eliminated any platform that did not offer at least a free tier of service with a reasonably complete feature set as part of their offering. If we’ve inadvertently missed one of your favorites, please feel free to leave a comment, and we will consider including it as well. Happy Hunting!

VoIP Platform Feature Summary

Aggregation: FreePBX Distro a.k.a. AsteriskNOW
License: Closed Source
VoIP Platform: Asterisk 13/14
GUI: FreePBX GPL and Commercial modules
O/S: CentOS-clone
Phone Provisioning: Open Source (minimal) or Commercial
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: Optional/No
Software Updates: Manual
Migration Tools: Yes
Security: Fail2Ban + User-Configured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): see above
Comments: Extensive commercial NagWare preinstalled

Aggregation: Incredible PBX for Wazo
License: GPL3 Open Source
VoIP Platform: Asterisk 14 RealTime
GUI: Wazo GPL3 modules
O/S: Debian 8
Phone Provisioning: Extensive Open Source
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: Yes/Yes
Software Updates: Automatic or 2-minute Manual
Migration Tools: No
Security: Fail2Ban + Preconfigured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Secure WhiteList
Comments: High Availability & Call Center GPL3 Modules

Aggregation: Ombutel
License: Closed Source
VoIP Platform: Asterisk 13
GUI: Ombutel with external module support
O/S: Debian 8
Phone Provisioning: Closed Source
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: No/No
Software Updates: Manual
Migration Tools: No
Security: FaiL2Ban + Do-It-Yourself Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Insecure

Aggregation: PIAF5 powered by 3CX
License: Closed Source
VoIP Platform: 3CX
GUI: 3CX
O/S: Debian 8
Phone Provisioning: Extensive Closed Source
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: No/No
Software Updates: Semi-Automatic
Migration Tools: Yes
Security: Fail2Ban + Preconfigured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Secure
Comments: Free upgrade provides unlimited SIP trunks with 8 simultaneous calls

Aggregation: Elastix 5.0 powered by 3CX
License: Closed Source
VoIP Platform: 3CX
GUI: 3CX
O/S: Debian 8
Phone Provisioning: Extensive Closed Source
Software Updates: Semi-Automatic
Migration Tools: Yes
Security: Fail2Ban + Preconfigured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Secure
Comments: Free version limited to one SIP trunk & 8 simultaneous calls

Aggregation: Incredible PBX 3
License: GPL2 Open Source
VoIP Platform: Asterisk 13
GUI: FreePBX GPL modules only
O/S: CentOS 6/7, Ubuntu 14, or Raspbian 8
Phone Provisioning: Open Source (minimal)
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: Yes/Yes
Software Updates: Automatic
Migration Tools: Yes
Security: Fail2Ban + Preconfigured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Secure WhiteList
Comments: FreePBX GPL modules only; module signature verification disabled1

Aggregation: Elastix 4.0
License: Open Source GPL
Platform: Asterisk 13
O/S: CentOS 7
Phone Provisioning: Open Source
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: No/No
Software Updates: Semi-Automatic
Migration Tools: No
Security: Fail2Ban + Unconfigured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Insecure
Comments: Currently unavailable but fork announced

Aggregation: PIAF3
License: Open Source GPL with Closed Source Installer
Platform: Asterisk 11/13
O/S: CentOS 6
Phone Provisioning: Open Source (minimal)
Text-to-Speech/Voice Recognition: No/No
Software Updates: Manual
Migration Tools: No
Security: Fail2Ban + Unconfigured Firewall
Security Rating (as delivered): Insecure
Comments: No longer maintained

Published: Sunday, January 1, 2017




Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


 

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FULL DISCLOSURE: RentPBX, Amazon, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, Sangoma, 3CX, TelecomsXchange and others have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a half-price offer on up to $500 of Skyetel SIP trunking service with free number porting when you sign up for a Skyetel account. No restrictions on number of simultaneous calls and triple data center redundancy assures that you’ll never have a failed call. Tutorial and sign up details are available here.

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 


RentPBX, a long-time partner and supporter of PIAF project, is offering generous discounts for Nerd Vittles readers. For all of your Incredible PBX hosting needs, sign up at www.RentPBX.com and use code NOGOTCHAS to get the special pricing. The code will lower the price to $14.99/month, originally $24.99/month. It’s less than 50¢/day.


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  1. See RIPStech article explaining why FreePBX module signature verification is a very dangerous methodology. []
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