By: Brian Lannon, ConvergeAssure® Engineer
As an Engineer who installs IP Office in standalone SMB, and the more Enterprise size deployments, I often see a lot of confusion in understanding the difference between how a server edition should work vs. the other possible deployment of the Small Community Network or SCN.
The goal of an SCN (Small Community Network) or a Server Edition IP Office deployment is relatively the same, be able to set up multiple locations of your business on what is essentially one phone system. This includes a one site consolidated voicemail server that can handle all of your end users, various unified communication applications, inter office 4-digit dialing, auto attendants, and one-point receptionist who can direct calls to all of your locations.
Both the IP Office SCN and the IP Office Server Edition can handle these tasks and make your end user experience seem convenient and seamless. But on the back end it’s a very different environment in terms of managing, licensing, and to maintain. I could literally spend hours talking about this, but I will try and confine myself to the basics, advantages and differences between the 2 types of IP Office deployments.
If you are considering IP Office or upgrading consider these main issues, topics.
- License Management
- System Management
- Resiliency/Emergency failover
- Trunks/Provider delivery of your telephone lines
- Network between multi-site locations
- Deployment Digital vs. IP phones
- Voicemail / One-X Applications.
On the first subject License Management:
IP Office Server Edition uses a consolidated WebLM / or Server based management for licensing. All of your licenses, with the exception of Receptionist and PRI licenses, are housed on the on the main server (WebLM server is built on the main server during the build.) The main server can delegate licenses to any endpoint or expansion module in your connected environment as licenses are handed out as needed or can be reserved for certain devices as a priority arises. (Note IP Office Server Edition does not need additional Voice Networking licenses it is included with the Purchase of the Server Edition licenses purchased for expansions and the Backup server).
IP Office SCN. The SCN consists of 1, 2, 3… etc IP 500 V2 standalone IP Office chassis that work together in unison via IP Office networked links (Avaya Voice Networking license is required for every link you intend to make between devices) Since each site has a standalone 500V2 each site needs to be built out as its own separate entity, then they are linked to each other site with IP Office SCN Lines. Each unit needs to have its own set of licenses. these are locked onto each units PLDS Host ID and are not interchangeable with other sites. Add 5 users to your solution you need to add 5 licenses to that specific location. for those larger businesses that want license flexibility or that have multi-office employees this is not an Ideal situation.
Simply put. Server Edition allows you to control and manage all of your phones and applications from the Primary Server. All Management is pushed from the server down and synced across the entire Environment. Any change made on an expansion will be automatically brought to the server managers attention when they log on and they have an option to decline the change and force the original configuration back onto the expansion. (Easy recovery from a mistake on a expansion)
SCN Each location needs to be managed and maintained as a separate entity. This can be more time consuming. Even though you can pull up all sites at one time and manage them in the Management program. changes are not synced, and any incorrect change can break your SCN and then be harder to find and fix. There is no top down management like in the Server Edition.
Resiliency / Emergency Failover:
This can be done in and SCN, its clunky. In an SCN you need to build multiple ARS Routes, you have to build a series of different short codes to dial out of the different SCN connected PRI’s. All phones are built to and registered to their own onsite IP500V2, in some outage or emergency situations. you will most likely have more people trying to call across your limited number of Voice Networking channels then can be handled at the time.
IP Office Server Edition most commonly consisting of a Primary Server at Site A, and a Secondary Server (idle on standby) at Site B. IP 500V2’s (Configured as expansions) where needed and to provide PRI and analog (CO) trunks. (A downside to Server Edition is it only takes SIP Trunks, so PRI and Analog require a IP 500V2 to provide those). With the common configuration (built correctly), all of your IP End points are built onto the primary server. Then programming set to fail over to the secondary server. In the event of a loss of communication to the Primary server or a loss of the primary server hardware, the secondary server takes over. and with some simple button programming end users can hit a button and see the available Trunks. pick a trunk and dial out normally until the primary server is recovered.
Trunks/ Provider delivery:
Both the SCN Deployment and the Server Edition can take any combination of trunks Analog, PRI, SIP (As I said before Server editions require IP 500V2’s for Analog and PRI Trunks) and though Server Edition by itself is isolated to only SIP trunks, a proper deployment could have you Installing a PRI only at the Primary Server location and the Secondary Server location (With the option to add more at locations with IP 500V2’s). The SCN will most likely have you installing PRI and Analog lines at all of your locations.
Networking between Locations:
Both deployments are a great solution if you intend on deploying to multiple locations. both the SCN and Server Edition can receive connectivity through MPLS Deployment or Site to Site VPN tunnel. Obviously, Server Edition is more flexible on a good network. In one deployment we were required to provide end user extensions in multiple different city government locations. Some locations that did not have IP500’s deployed. However, since we were deploying using the Server Edition on their network, we were able to just plug phones in at the satellite sites and they came up on the network and communicated with the server (Best practice is to use VLANS and solid DHCP Scopes).
Obviously, systems that will be heavy on Digital endpoints will require more hardware. each extension needs a dedicated port. Digital deployments will work with server edition; however, every site will require an IP 500V2 and IP 500 Expansion Modules in order for your digital phones to work. An IP deployment is less hardware extensive in terms of the build out. IP Endpoints can sit on your existing data switches and we do not need 1 port per phone as in the digital deployment. IP End Point deployments also allow full convergence as computers can be set up on the IP Phones secondary data port and use the data pass through functionality of the IP Phones. Convergence allows you to keep the number of data switch to a minimum (when deployed and configured correctly).
Both the SCN and the Server Edition can take advantage of consolidated (One Server) Voicemail Pro and One-X. The difference is in an SCN you will need to purchase or provision an additional server or two that will house your voicemail / and One-X services and applications. IP Office Server Edition is built on a Linux bare metal box or on VMware will have the Voicemail Pro and One-X server software included and it is built up out of the box with no additional provisioning.
I hope this brings some better knowledge to light when considering between IP Office deployments.
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