I've had in place an SPA9000/SPA400 with 10 SPA504 phones and 4 analog outside line, for about 2 months, and it's been one big disaster and resource drain. I'd like to keep the phones, but I'd like to know about moving to a UC500 system. These are problems with the SPA9000/SPA400:
Is it reliable (ie, does it need power cycles every few days)? Do the phones' LEDs go into odd states at unpredictable times?
Does voice mail work with outside calls? (ie, can an outside caller be transferred to another extension, and then go to the voice mailbox if no answer?
Does Shared Line Appearance actually work? (ie, can two phones share one extension number, either phone can take a call, place a call on hold, and then the other phone pick up the call)
Does blind transfer actually work?
Is the programming of the SPA504 phones and UC500 similar in concept to the SPA9000? For example, dial plans.
While I don't have a lot of experience with the SPA9000 system, I can tell you a little bit about the UC500s. The company that I work for tries to implement important pieces of hardware into our own corporate environment prior to installation in our customer's. The way I see it, if I am using it myself, I'll know the shortfalls and problems prior to having to find them out in a customer's installation. Therefore, we installed a UC520 in our office a couple of years ago with several of the CE-520 switches, a WLAN controller, light weight access points, and a bunch of IP phones. We tested the system fairly thoroughly for about 6 months before we started selling them to our clients, and the UC500 platform has proven to be very reliable. I'll answer your questions to the best of my ability below:
Q. Is it reliable (ie, does it need power cycles every few days)? Do the phones' LEDs go into odd states at unpredictable times?
A. I just telnetted into my UC540 and found that they system has been up for 10 weeks, 1 day, 13 hours, and 38 minutes. The last reboot was likely due to a software upgrade. As for the phone LEDs, we will occaisionally get some weird behavior from a phone, but it's few and far between. In the event that you do have a problem that can't be resolved over the phone, TAC or SBSC is very willing to process an RMA.
Q. Does voice mail work with outside calls? (ie, can an outside caller be transferred to another extension, and then go to the voice mailbox if no answer?
A. Out of the box the system is easily configured to allow the above functionality. The first time that you work your way through the settings, it can be a bit overwhelming, but after you spend some time in CCA, you'll appreciate all of the control that you have over the system. Our incoming dial plan is as follows: Incoming Call --> Receptionist --> (If receptionist does not answer) --> Blast group 1 --> Blast group 2 --> Auto Attendant From the Auto Attendant, you have choices about which department that you would like to reach (IT, Engineering, Sales, etc.). If nobody is available at that extension, you get dropped into a group mailbox or a user's mailbox. This is easy to setup.
Q. Does Shared Line Appearance actually work? (ie, can two phones share one extension number, either phone can take a call, place a call on hold, and then the other phone pick up the call)
A. Yes. I personally have a desk phone and a softphone (CIPC) on my computer and have also had a wireless phone in the past. If all are active in the network, all will show the same extension and all will ring on an incoming call. I can select the phone that I want to answer and the other phones display that the line is being used.
Q. Does blind transfer actually work?
A. Yes. We have also enabled the ability to transfer directly to voicemail which is a standard option as well.
Q. Is the programming of the SPA504 phones and UC500 similar in concept to the SPA9000? For example, dial plans.
A. Not sure on this one, but Cisco recommends using CCA to configure the UC500 family which is a straightforward, easy to use, GUI.
We have noticed a few quirks here and there, but overall, I'm very impressed with how much functionality is packed into this system at such a low cost. My recommendation (if you can live with SBSC support and NBD replacement) is to go with the UC540 if you have less than 32 users. The UC520 requires a hardware change when you add users, where as the UC540 is flexible from 8 to 32 users on a single hardware platform.
Once your configuration is settled and you don't mess around in CCA the UC systems are quite stable. Since the majority of my UC installs don't have a UPS connected to them my record uptime is 35 weeks, which I consider pretty good. The failure rate in my opionion is far less then other SMB ip-pbx brands.
I've been through a lot of bugs and weird behavior the past two years, the CCA has been the source of a most of them. If you plan to learn how to install/use the UC series I recommend learning CLI and get a SmartNet service contract, it's good to have someone to call when it goes south and nothing works
Overall I can recommend the UC, specially since I have insight in how other brands ip-pbx works.
I will try to keep it brief for you as I am sure your local Cisco Account Manager would be best suited to compile information for your rather than the forums, at least they can possibly bring out a demonstration unit for you to inspect and play with.
You need to compare Apples with Apples, the SPA9000 in my humble opinion was a poorly executed and failed attempt at trying to capture the market that looks at the Asterisk system, if anything I believe the SPA9000 hurt Cisco/Linksys much more then it would have made into the Asterisk Domain, I am unaware of one single sucessfull deployment where it has just worked, the complaints come in quite thick on those system.
I believe Cisco should stop selling them immediatly, it is hurting their brand name.
All your requests stated in your post work right out of the box, the UC-500 series appliance is complimented by a GUI application called Cisco Configuration Assistance "CCA", this is a free application provided by Cisco to assist their SMB partners who work with the UC-500 series appliances.
On top of that Cisco have also installed a web based GUI on the UC-500 appliances (CME GUI) that is also quite functional, it wont build a system from scratch, but it will certainly assist with maintaining it.
The cost of UC-500 series appliance now are so cheap, looking at the inferior products out there makes no sense, and if anything will in any event make your life more difficult. DO NOT be shy to ask for a demonstration unit to play with for 14 days, i have no doubt this will make up your mind for you, talk to your local CAM and ask them to come to the table on it.
In saying the above, the UC-500 series appliance are not fault free, they do have their own set of issue, but Cisco in their typical fashion nail these problems on the head in a very fashionable time, this to me is one of the key and critical things when looking at a system.
Good luck with your decision making process and I hope you make the right choice, do not let our experience with the SPA9000 impair our judgement as it has for many others out there.
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