1 Year Fonality Deployment for @100 endpoints-mixed bag
December 15, 2016
1 Year Fonality Deployment for @100 endpoints-mixed bag
Score 5 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Fonality
Fonality is being used by the whole company as an upgrade to a VoIP system replacing an old Panasonic PBX system from 1990s. All IT staff has had mixed experience with VoIP systems before coming to the company. Fonality was chosen based on being built on open source (specifically asterisk, to avoid closed systems with limited functionality and constantly pay to scale), what we felt were honest reviews on Reddit on performance and personal reference from someone using fonality at an smb.
- On-site product is truly built on Asterisk/CentOS, able to debug and manage detailed issues that go unsolved with other vendors.
- Voice uptime (along with Flowroute SIPs and FiOS) has been as good as telco.
- We specifically inquired to the sales rep about an on-site version of the product, which we thought we purchased. In our discussions part of this was the requirement that the system be up even if Fonality or our connection to Fonality was down and he answered it would be that way. What we have found is the mobile and web portions of the product are served from Fonality SaaS itself which has had carrier issues in our time with them. Worse, our on-site Fonality server requires integration with their SaaS system even to login (???), and they push configuration changes to our on-site system with no change control per client. This means bugs we have worked on with Fonality support where fixes were implemented directly in our system via config files, and which never make it back into the Fonality core system constantly overwrite our changes. Most of these bugs have come back and we are now just living with them, although they are categorized as annoyances. Upshot: Sales was misleading.
- We were given the choice on a few brands of phones Fonality offered. On a recommendation from a very large Yealink rollout from a family member (non-fonality), we went with T42g's and T46g's. We have since found Fonality offers no specific services or controls over this brand of phone, meaning that while basic functions like calls and number keys work, features like on-screen directories are TFTP hacks we must maintain, there is no way to propagate a configuration change across all phones from Fonality, and controls for things like constantly blinking voicemail indicators when we have Fonality set to email their voicemail are not available except through temporary hacks to to our server that get overwritten by Fonality.
- When we started the implementation we were assigned a bright project manager who coordinated with us over google docs. It became clear this was a new process for them and the organization of data and specific requests became unmanageable as different engineers and PMs entered our project which lead to many mistakes in our build with constant re-dos which drug out implementation/testing time. Support has been a mixed bag; it's evident there are really good agents and engineers working at Fonality, however as time passes it gets harder to be assigned one or get access. Our recent interactions have been reduced to "restart your server", "no you can't do that", "Oh that didn't work for you. We have nothing else, we are closing the ticket". We run our own support division and also use ZenDesk - this would never fly with us.
- HUDweb audio no longer works for us, which means we cannot use the native web-based softphone. When we got the product (Q4 2015) we were told there was an issue with the audio plugin for Chrome on Mac they would eventually fix. The problem has now spread to all platforms and all browsers. It appears Fonality relies on NPAPI or custom proprietary (MS?) libraries that are no longer web-compliant or supported, even on Windows 10 with recent Firefox or Chrome. To our knowledge our users no longer use the web feature which is a complete failure considering the expectations you would have of a modern VoIP system. The HUDMobile product has had a 50/50 chance of working since we opened it up to our users. Neither product provides logging or support for our technicians to help diagnose issues. Regarding HUDMobile, problems arise largely when outside our network, which is understandable save for the requirement the software also talk to the Fonality SaaS system which is whitelisted for communication. We ended up using Wireshark to identify specific issues with the way each was attempting to communicate with our Fonality on-site server and Fonality SaaS (still in question why this is in play when we purchased the on-site product). We found Fonality engineers to have little understanding of how Cisco and Juniper identify and manage VoIP traffic across NAT, left alone to figure out a solution. We were successful for about a 6 month period until Fonality updates or configuration changes.
- The web-based administration tool is awkward, first calling Fonality's SaaS system to be "blessed" and allowed to continue. It appears to proxy data from our server through Fonality, which makes every click's request/response round trip painful, especially when working with our phone, user, or extensions lists. We were given specific instructions on how to manually work around interface bugs when adding/modifying phone devices in the Fonality system that have never been addressed in the software. This makes for difficult knowledge transfer to new staff.
- This most likely is flat.
- ShoreTel, Digium and Cisco
We only saw demos of these systems. It was apparent Fonality was behind ShoreTel and Cisco with user interface quality, however this was less important than being able to get under the hood which only Digium provided. Cisco was walled garden and very high cost. We heard many reports of issues with ShoreTel.
I would expect very small offices (<20) with a simple network, or perhaps Fonality SaaS users would be well served.