Which VoIP Vendor: Cisco or Mitel?

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Business/IT alignment
Cisco
Network protocols
Networking
VoIP
I'm working on a project to our HQ. I have an opportunity to replace our older Mitel PBX with a VoIP solution. Our data infrastructure is Cicso. As IT Manager, I'd prefer Cisco for superior product and excellent service from VAR. The Voice manager prefers Mitel. I feel Mitel's solution of placing VoIP PBXs at all sites is poor, whereas Cisco only one PBX with two voice cards in the showroom routers each. Any suggestions if costs overall is similar? We have 350 employees (150=HQ, 100=Showroom employees at 10 location across US and 100 sales people working from home.
ASKED: March 24, 2006  12:35 PM
UPDATED: April 3, 2006  10:00 PM

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Mitel is a good solution if you set up a paralell voice only LAN as I do not think they support Layer 3.

They do have some nice features that are less expensive to deploy and maintain than Cisco however for network consistency you will get beter overall quality with Cisco.

The Next-gen Nortel (BCM 300-500 etc) looks to be even better.

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  • Solutions1
    Welcome to the cultural shock of network "convergence." To get beyond "feelings," approach the choices from 1) an engineering economics perspective, and 2) a network performance and lifecycle management perspective, especially focusing on network latency, which is crucial to VOIP. In both respects, flesh out the numbers for "plan a" (your Cisco scheme), plan b (the Mital scheme) and maybe plan "c." Let the numbers speak for themselves, and only fall back on "feelings" as a tiebreaker.
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  • Jgpretty
    Your management tool integration will likley be better with Cisco, but retraining costs wil likley be less with Mitel. If Mitel is proposing a box at each site, the solution will likley be open to better failover configuration in the event of a WAN failure. Without knowing the details of the Cisco solution this may be inaccurate (sometimes they will engineer redundancy into the local router) Approach the priorities from the point of redundancy and reliability, features and then cost (including training of Tlecom staff). Its easy to go wrong in the VOIP arena by focussing on cost and finding out later that some critical functional items are missing (like proper 911 service or even dial tone in the event of a WAN interuption)
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  • Mikel69
    Several things to consider, the requirements for VOIP in your existing infrastructure is foremost. If you are not ready for VOIP in your network, you will run into a lot of issues. There is a book out by Cisco Press called `Voice enabling the data network? that goes over a lot of the considerations and issues you will face. As far as which is better Mitel or Cisco, I am prejudice in that area ;) I do not know the Mitel solution, but I do know if you mention to your local Cisco Sales Rep. and System Engineer that you are comparing both, they will go out of their way to demonstrate the abilities and built in redundancy of the Cisco CallManager and other VOIP solutions. There are many centralized VOIP solutions possible with Cisco equipment that will most likely address your needs. Regardless of which one you choose, your network needs to be ready, in terms of QoS and stability. Peace out :)
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  • Titatius
    Last December our company went with a Mitel VoIP system because it was slightly cheaper than a competing Avaya system. I can't stand the system, and neither can our users. Our sales rep wasn't that great it turns out, which you can't account for, but the product isn't as strong as I'd like it to be. Specifically, the web-based management isn't very intuitive, so unless you spend some serious time learning it you'll be hunting all over just to find where to change an extension. Also, beware of the phones themselves. We are using 5220's and the are aweful. In the demo of the system everything went smoothly and there were no apparent problems. However, these phones are poorly designed and cause an echo effect where the user can hear an echo of their own voice. Thankfully the callee cannot hear this echo, but its incredibly annoying and distracting. We've had Mitel technicians out twice to try and fix it and they so far are unable and they've chalked it up to bad handset design. Furthermore, the Mitel system has strange quirks with call reception and pickup, and does some odd things when switching from day to night service. I would not recommend the Mitel VoIP system. I feel it isn't as robust or stable as other solutions on the market, like Avaya or Cisco. If you want further details PM me and we can chat. -Thomas
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  • NavoneNew1
    Asterisk was featured in a 4 page fold out centerfold in this weeks Forbes Magazine Apri 10, 2006 issue; you can see the article on forbes.com if u register (free) with the site; our prejudices lie with Asterisk, pls contact me with any further questions regarding Asterisk. cheers.
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  • EwilsNxO
    Cisco and Mitel are just some of the VoIP vendors on the market. Other good ones are Nortel, Alcatel and Avaya. You should consider which requirements you need for your business and what are the needs of the end user, and not limit yourself to your own feeling (or that of the voice manager). If you make a blueprint for the new VoIP solution, then you can decide which solution best fits your needs. Remember, at this moment you should let the technique follow your business processes and needs, not the other way around.
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  • Arubinst
    I am CIO/CTO at private college with 4 locations and about 1,600 students. In 2004 we evaluated 12 different VOIP vendors in USA. 6 vendors including Cisco, Avaya, Alcatel, hosting solustions providers such as AT & T prepared their proposals and multiple presetations. Cisco has quite limited VOIP options, not business frienfly and it is costly. Avaya would have rich VOIP features, but force you to deal with multiple vendors, implementation will take years. Zultys Systems (Sunnyvale, Ca) was an unmatched champion. I implemented it in 4 weeks, we very happy about this system.
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  • Rwachholz323
    Hello all, I am the person who originally posted this "project" and I surprised to see all the interest. I was participating as a paid beta tester for this site and didn't take it very seriously since I didn't think they would publish the best tester's input. You all have very good points. We favored the Mitel solution because it has video conferencing and remote access options that can be added to the base system as you can afford them. Our original project was to find an affordable video conferencing system - we were favoring Polycom until we found Mitel and discovered we could add VoIP for almost the same cost as video conferencing alone. Cisco is MUCH more expensive. Their phones look more "industrial" and feel more solid. However, Mitel's 5220 phones are OK - we have excellent sound quality no echos - in fact is's such clear sound quality we have people on hold think we hung up on them. I totally agree that the programming interface is very kludgey, but I'm learning my way around it. We used HP Procurve switches instead of Cisco to save money - big mistake. LOTS of confusion and problems with those. Finally had to get an HP switch expert on site (at Mitel's expense) and discovered the QoS settings were set wrong. VLAN tagging is a new beast with a learning curve, too. The QoS wasn't affecting the voice quality, but the video system was un-useable until HP fixed the QoS problem. At this point our management thinks this system is great because it's so user freindly for the non-technical people. To start video conferences one guy picks up the phone in one conference room, dials the 4 digit extension to any of several conference rooms in remote offices, they answer the phone, then both guys press the green "video" button on the phones - the video cameras turn on, and they see each other on the plasma TV's. It's not hard to add laptop sharing either. Our users love it, and we don't have to set up every conference for them. Another very nice feature of this system is the ability to program the 5220 phones with "Inteliworker" programming, then the phone can be taken off site, plugged into any high speed internet access, and it VPN's to the phone server. Laptops can also be plugged into remote phones for remote access to the network. Our buiness is architecture - this feature is great for hooking job shacks or client's offices into our phone system. Mitel now has a "soft phone" option - software installed on laptops that will work the same way, but we haven't tried it yet. Other install problems included our phone company connecting bonded T1's to the pbx incorrectly in one office. (!!!!) and we're still not sure we're getting all the bandwidth in one remote office. It's mysteriously slow and we can't find a reason yet. Mitel discontinued the 5220 phone - new phones added to the system are 5224 with a different button arrangement - annoying as we expand the system. But - overall, we're pretty happy with it what we got for what we paid for. The whole project would have been nixed at Cisco's prices. The installation was not fun, the basic phone system was running within 2 days, but the various problems I've listed took about six months to resolve completely, especially the video problems caused the the HP pro curves. But, on the other hand, I haven't heard many "gosh, it all went so smooth" stories either. It's nice to hear one of those from these posts. My research didn't turn up that manufacturer. RoxAnne Wachholz Northwest Architectural Co
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