Clearing the Air

By Malcolm Davenport

Hello and greetings to the readers of our Digium blog!

Our commitment to our customers and resellers is to always provide factual and accurate information in support of making informed purchasing decisions. Yesterday afternoon, we received an e-mail from a reseller who themselves were the recipient of commentary, from a competitor, about our products. Given the level of misinformation in the original document, we felt compelled to set the record straight.

The points raised in the original document are in bold italics. Our responses to these points are in-line.

“The Switchvox support model has changed”

Correct, the Switchvox support model has changed. Now, customers can choose from e-mail only support, business hours phone-based support (5am-7pm PST), or 24×7 support. We think it’s a good thing that our support hours are expanded and that you now have the freedom to choose how much, or how little support you want.

“Digium now offers 24×7 emergency support, but it costs $4995/year.”

We’re offering something a little bit different. We’re offering 24×7 support for whatever you want; emergency or not. With our Platinum service level, customers get 5 non-business hours incidents per year. If you’re coming up on the end of your annual support services and you want to call us at 3am because your phone system is down, that’s fine. If it’s 3:01 am and you just want to ask us about the weather in San Diego, that’s fine, too. It’s just an incident; customers can use them for whatever they want.

A complete Switchvox SMB system with Platinum Supports starts at $3890 MSRP, not $4995.

Note though, that our online store, where an AA60 with SMB and 10 Platinum users is $4295, sells above MSRP to encourage customers to buy from resellers if at all possible.

“Besides costing $4995, customers are charged $100 for every non-business hours call they make for Switchvox support.”

That’s incorrect. Our support is incident based, so if a customer chooses Platinum level users, then they can open those 5 incidents for whatever they like.

“Digium’s Switchvox SMB offering costs $7490 for a tower server and no phones.”

Digium ceased offering the tower as an option for Switchvox on March 30th. Beginning on the 31st of March, Digium began offering the AA60, a small form-factor appliance. Referencing our previous comment above, the AA60 with SMB starts at $3390, not $7490.

For $7300, you could buy a Switchvox system, with phones, and have it covered by software updates and support for Five (5) years. Why not use the $190 you save to buy a fancy dinner, 191 tracks from iTunes, or some carbon credits?

“Switchvox has a terrible IVR builder.”We are concerned that anyone would think our builder is abysmal. Without clarification, it makes a response difficult. Here's a screenshot of our default IVR menu that’s provided with every Switchvox as an example for users to learn with.

In the IVR Tree section builder, you can see the steps in a top-to-bottom ordering, with the keystroke options below that. To the right, you’ll see the menu details. In the menu details, the first option controls the name and description of the IVR menu – and allows you to delete the menu. The “Actions” section shows you what steps are taken – with the option to Modify them. The “Options” section defines what happens when various DTMF keystrokes are used.

We think it’s fairly intuitive.

“Having the help messages for options pop up in new windows is a bad idea.”

Yes, we’ve chosen to use popup mini-windows with help information. This way, users aren’t faced with the trouble of a help balloon that they need to read accidentally covering the text of another option they need to reference. By putting the help text in a new mini-window, we’re allowing the user to move it around to a convenient space on their desktop.

“Switchvox does not offer AGI (Asterisk Gateway Interface) scripting capabilities.”

Correct, the integration of Switchvox with other systems occurs across a web accessible API. That means it’s incredibly easy to interact with anything else that’s web enabled. Examples of this are our Google maps, Salesforce.com, and SugarCRM panels inside of our web-based Switchboard user/operator real-time interactive call control panel.

Switchboard has a couple of advantages over other operator panels that aren’t web based:

  1. Updating to a new version doesn’t require an administrator to load new software on users’ PCs. Instead, users can get Switchboard updates by simply reloading the web-app.
  2. It’s multi-platform. Rather than maintaining version for Windows, Mac, Linux, etc., Switchboard is one application that runs in any OS’ web browser. Everyone gets the same features, regardless of their OS.

“Switchvox doesn’t have a concept of Groups. So, you can’t do permissions, or intercom, or paging.”

All of these capabilities are found in Switchvox SMB.

“Switchvox does not provide users with root-level access to the system.”

Correct, Switchvox though it is running on the GNU/Linux operating system, does not provide root-level access. Why do we do that?

We want to provide the customer a supportable product. If the customer is configuring the system using one interface, the GUI, then no one has to worry that they’re going to do something so wrong that they can’t be helped. For a reseller, this is great – it means your customers aren’t deciding to open the hood and install additional products that they ask you to support.

“Switchvox doesn’t have the capability to archive call recordings.”

Yes it does.

To backup call recordings in Switchvox, one needs to use the GUI to simply input the address of a storage server that can be reached across ftp, with username and password, and Switchvox will deposit the call recordings there upon the completion of each call. Like our IVR builder, we think this is pretty straight forward.

“Switchvox doesn’t give users access to raw configuration files.”

That is correct. Switchvox is managed entirely from the GUI. Because it’s managed from the GUI, users do not have the capability to edit or delete an important configuration file that might cause the system to become inoperable.

“I am not a Linux neophyte.”

Many of our Switchvox customers are Linux neophytes. They want an advanced and easy to use phone system that doesn’t require them to understand Linux or computer programming. For our customers that aren’t Linux neophytes, we offer a number of other solutions that are better suited to them.

We hope that our responses to the points are of use to our existing customers and to those of you that we’d like to convince to be our customers.

Cheers.

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About the Author

Malcolm Davenport

Digium lifer, celebrator of 17 Digium birthdays, and Digium employee #4. "I like telephony and I cannot lie. You other vendors can't deny; When a call comes in with MOS so you can't hear and some echo in your ear you get angry!" - Sir Mix-a-Malcolm

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