To Build or To Buy: That is the Question…

By Tyler Hurt

Luckily, determining whether to build or buy your next business phone system doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Prince Hamlet’s soliloquy. In fact, choosing between a commercial or open source solution might be easier than you think and really comes down to three variables: complexity, time, and value.


The biggest differentiator between commercial and open source systems is complexity. While turnkey solutions usually come pre-built for you, custom solutions require full assembly and you must decide upon each and every feature you want to be included. Typically, open source solutions are a good option for those with a strong technical background and familiarity with Linux, script programming, networking, and telephony technologies.

Commercial products, on the other hand, are great for those who are new to telephony and want a phone system that is both easy to install and user-friendly. Also, turnkey solutions like Switchvox come with all features included so you don’t have to worry about having to pick and choose the functionality you want. It’s all already included for one price.

Deciding whether to pick an open source or turnkey solution depends largely on your technical aptitude and familiarity with telephony technologies.


Another important consideration in the decision to build or buy is time. By time I mean how soon you intend to deploy your new phone system and how much time you are willing to invest in learning a new solution.

Both turnkey and open source solutions require an installation process and training, but depending on your familiarity with the required technologies, open source solutions can take longer to learn, build, and install.

Therefore, if your deployment date is fast approaching, it may be better to choose a turnkey solution.


The third element to consider in the decision to build or buy your next phone system is value. When comparing solutions, value and bottom line price often get confused with one another. If this happens, you may end up building or buying a system that doesn’t meet the needs of your organization.

For example, you might choose to use an open source solution based on its lower bottom line cost, but if it doesn’t have the functionality your company needs, it won’t really be of any value to your organization.

Conversely, you may be tempted to purchase a very expensive turnkey solution for its added functionality only to realize you wasted money on features that you didn’t need. These scenarios illustrate why it’s important to focus on finding a solution that meets your business needs and not just your budget.

Next Steps

I hope this article has helped you in your journey to your next business phone system. If you are still wrestling with the decision to build or buy a new phone system, you can watch VoIP expert Matt Hilton discuss the topic of building or buying in the video below.


Whether you are looking for an open source or turnkey phone system, Digium offers solutions to meet your needs. Digium offers Switchvox, a powerful yet affordable UC solution built with ease-of-use in mind; and Asterisk, a flexible open source platform built for and by telecom developers worldwide and is used to power Switchvox.

If you are interested in learning more about the differences between Switchvox and Asterisk, you can compare them in this guide.


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About the Author

Tyler Hurt

Tyler is a marketing automation specialist for Digium. In this role, he is responsible for developing emails, landing pages, nurturing programs and web forms using Digium’s marketing automation platform. Prior to joining Digium in 2018, Tyler attended the University of Kentucky and spent his senior year conducting market research focused on consumer behavior. He graduated with honors from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Accounting and BBA in Marketing.

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