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AdrianSimpson
AdrianSimpson's picture
Joined: 2019/03/13
Points: 20

Hi All,

We are a small provider, and are looking to spread our wings from the greedy licensing model of 3CX. We have dabbled in Bicom which was OK but now looking at Thirdlane. After struggling with a few bits and bots i thought i would just ask a few basic questions, if anyone is able to shed light on any that would be great.

Provisioning - Auto Provisioning / templates?
Coming from 3CX where provisioning is easy, I can only register a handset manually currently, i cannot get to auto provision, how do you guys do this?

Ring Groups - are the called hunt groups in Thirdlane?

Live Monitoring of Calls - Through connect or management console? is this a feature?

Live Monitoring of Extension status - Online / away / on call etc? both through connect or management console?

Company directory (phone book) - is there any form of shared phonebook in connect? i was blown away to find this wasnt a feature in Bicom, so in 3CX if user A adds a contact to the company phone book, User B search and dial that number almost instantly
.
Connect Settings - End user being able to turn off call recording etc in app – is this something we can disable?

Wallboard - any built in option for this?

If anyone is able to shed some light on any of those or needs me to elaborate in any way it would be much appreciated.

Kind Regards
Adrian

volodya
volodya's picture
Joined: 2017/01/05
Points: 220

Hello Adrian,

Provisioning. You can install/update available provisioning templates in Template Bundles window under System Management => System Settings => Device Provisioning. Provisioning server can be configured in Settings window. Provisioning files can be generated in Selected Tenant Management => Device Provisioning. It is possible to customize provisioning templates but at the moment this can be done only by adjusting template files.
Ring Groups. They are called "Hunt Lists" in Thirdlane. They are located under Selected Tenant Management => PBX Features.
Live Monitoring of Calls. This feature is not present out of the box but can be easily added with custom dial script. Please let me know if you need some guidance.
Live Monitoring of Extension status. Regular SIP presence is available for SIP phones. SIP device status is shared to Connect. Connect status is only shared to other Connect users. Different device presence gathering and processing will be updated and related features will change in the future.
Company directory. Each Connect user has access to entire company directory (Selected Tenant Management => Extensions and Contacts => Company Directory). User can also store personal contacts. Supported SIP phones will get access to company directory during the provisioning.
Connect Settings. You can remove ability to change call recording parameters from user by removing "Manage Call Recording" permission on User Portal tab of User Extension management window.
Wallboard. There is not Wallboard feature at the moment.

netriplex
netriplex's picture
Joined: 2012/01/24
Points: 100

Adrian,

The wallboard/receptionist and other "views" are big features of 3CX I have been asking for for a while from Thirdlane without success. Maybe with some more requests for more than just me, it might get implemented as they are really good and powerful features of 3CX.

For the most part Thirdlane is a better PBX with more flexibility, however, if you focus only on the surface of appearances (which a lot of customers/people do and has been our problem pushing Thirdlane), the 3CX application appears much more refined and feature rich than the Thirdlane connect software.

If your clients are visually focused and care about the app above all else, they may be disappointed in Thirdlane. If call routing and more general PBX feature sets and PBX flexibility is their focus, Thirdlane beats out 3CX all day.

AdrianSimpson
AdrianSimpson's picture
Joined: 2019/03/13
Points: 20

Thanks very much for the responses, i must say I am taken with thirdlane, coming from 3CX it was a bit daunting at first but sinking my teeth into the asterisk platform on Bicom helped bridge the gap.

Our clients arent so much visually focused but since our move to Bicom 2 BIG features it appears a good base of our customers are used to is Company Directory & 'Receptionist' view of live calls / manage Queues.

Volodya, if i could just ask one more thing regarding Company directory, so if i add a contact in the company directory section of the console, when i then search on connect it will just appear? as i feel i have tried this without success. What could i be doing wrong?

Thanks again, appreciated

netriplex
netriplex's picture
Joined: 2012/01/24
Points: 100

Adrian,

Unfortunately, this is another software oversight/shortcoming with the Thirdlane Connect product. The company directory is focused on being loaded into hard phones and not the softphone product.

That is kind of what I was alluding to with the differences between 3CX and Thirdlane. 3CX is more refined on the software client side of things. It has more "views", features, and flexibility in it's softphone and application vs Thirdlane. However Thirdlane has more features, flexibility, and functionality from a pure PBX perspective.

thirdlane
thirdlane's picture
Joined: 2007/02/07
Points: 440

I'd prefer not to get into a feature by feature comparison with any product, but since the discussion started, I would like to add a few words.

Both Thirdlane and 3CX can be used for simple installations, but what makes Thirdlane different is that our reseller and service provider partners can support far more complex real life installations by taking advantage of the flexibility that is "designed" into Thirdlane. This may not be immediately obvious to the new customers, but the more you use Thirdlane, the more you will see that with Thirdlane platform you can accomplish anything.

The other major difference is that Thirdlane provides solutions for single, Multi Tenant, and cluster installations - something 3CX really does not. Single and Multi tenant systems are very similar (it is easy to learn both), and many resellers use multi tenant for smaller customers, and single tenant instances for large, or those with special privacy requirements, in the cloud or anywhere. Also, the tools are available for migrating tenants from Multi Tenant to Single Tenant instances.

As far as Thirdlane Connect app - it is not just a softphone with a directory. While it can be used as a softphone, it is built for multichannel modern communications - private and group messaging, channels with application integrations, audio and video conferencing, and screen sharing. It allows users to access various contact sources including major CRMs (not just the company directory), manage personal settings in PBX (like call forwarding voicemail, recorded calls).

Thirdlane Connect runs on practically any device, supports core features of Slack, is much easier to install and manage than Microsoft Teams, and it is combined with field tested advanced voice and video platforms. I can not speak about 3CX softphone, but our team "lives" in Connect - so I can assure you that it is a very useful application.

As far as the operator panel, i do agree, it is time to have something on that front. We always provided an open platform where integrations were easy, so many of our customers use operator panels from other vendors. That said, we now have a good base for an operator panel with the experience gained in building Thirdlane Connect and it seems the requests are many - we just need a little more time - stay tuned.

Alex Epshteyn
Third Lane Technologies
Multi Tenant Asterisk PBX

netriplex
netriplex's picture
Joined: 2012/01/24
Points: 100

Alex,

Upfront, I think you essentially summed up a lot of what I said, Thirdlane is a superior, more feature-rich and flexible "PBX", it just doesn't have the same software bells and whistles as it pertains to "PBX" functionality.

Now, correct me if I am wrong on any of this...

The one problem I have with all of the "features" that keep getting implemented into Connect ahead of these other features which I have continued to press are more critical is that as far as I am aware they are in a closed off ecosystem which limits their functionality to a large number of customers. In other words, you have screen sharing. That is great, but it is only available to use with another user of the Connect software on the PBX you cannot to and within the same tenant on a multitenant PBX.

Likewise, similar limitations exist for your video conferencing and messaging. They are useful features when you do a lot of internal communications because they can only be used internally. However, the pushback we received when "showing off" these things was that they were all well and good, but most of "their" (referring to potential clients) screen sharing and videoconferencing needs required the attendance of EXTERNAL parties (people from other companies not connected to their PBX as an extension). The general feedback was that if they still needed Zoom, GotoMeeting, etc to conduct the majority of their video conferences and screen sharing, then those features inside of Connect were useless to them because it made no sense from a training perspective to publish a document that said hey use Zoom/GotoMeeting/Etc for most of our conferences, but if it is internal only, make sure everyone also has this thirdlane connect client available to them as well.

If I am wrong about this and this is an external application that can be distributed to external parties to join a conference/screen share with some type of one time generated code, please let me know how and I would LOVE to push the solution more.

Otherwise, I have continuously and constantly pushed the concept that I feel like Connect development is always focused in the wrong place and trying to do too many things and not doing any of it well. If Connect remained focus on being a purely PBX companion dedicated to exploiting the features of the Thirdlane PBX itself, it would become a much more appealing product. Instead, you appear to be attempting to replace Zoom/GotoMeeting/Slack/Microsoft Teams/Skype/Telegram and implementing it in a manner where none of it feature rich to be as useful as it could be. Your comparison to Slack/Microsoft Teams is more appropriate, however, as you alluded to, you only have "CORE" functionality of those products. Therefore, your development efforts are being trained on a small subset niche of a user base who want a stripped down version of Slack with a PBX built in compared to development efforts focused on virtually everyone who would appreciate an amazing PBX solution.

3CX offers the screen sharing etc as well and I'm sure your always looking to your competitors and may be concerned about playing catch up on these features, but our 3CX clients have the same issues with 3CX screen sharing, etc as Thirdlane. However, they LOVE wallboard, Q-Manager, Switchboard, etc views that customize the PBX functionality of the application because that is what they care about their PBX APP doing. They have Zoom/Gotomeeting/etc for the other stuff that is far superior and cheap enough to not need to roll out another software package for screen sharing to people that do not need, use, or want Connect/3CX App for anything other screen sharing. Hard desk phones are still the preferred choice for 70%+ of our user's extensions.

Your comments in another thread about SMS messaging being implemented in a future release is exactly the type of thing I am referring to. Focusing on TELEPHONY features in Connect and making Connect a great TELEPHONY product that also offers some of the other incidental features would make the product MUCH more appealing to the masses based on the broad market feedback we receive (and see publicly in forums as well). To push out a Connect client with new views for different user types similar to 3CX, inclusion of the company directory (a major oversight that I don't know how it wasn't noticed earlier), BACKWARDS compatibility for new releases to make version transitions not a nightmare anymore, AND with external SMS support would be a spectacular release that I believe would literally be a game changer for the marketplace if Thirdlane can be first to market with it.

AdrianSimpson
AdrianSimpson's picture
Joined: 2019/03/13
Points: 20

Thanks for the responses guys, We have had our trial extended for a few more days so on with testing!

Like you said Alex I feel this is the way we are headed, MT for the smaller clients and Single instance for the larger.

And netriplex its been great reading your measured responses. Thanks for the input.

Kind Regards

thirdlane
thirdlane's picture
Joined: 2007/02/07
Points: 440

This turned into an interesting discussion. I do agree with some points here. The practice does show that the customers who are on the market for a PBX (majority of the customers who contact us are) are mostly interested in telephony, and may not yet appreciate the collaboration tools and other features. That said, when we introduced CRM integration many years ago, there was not that much interest either, and now it is a must have.

I am certain that the market for the well rounded and well integrated solutions is growing. While Slack is the "best in class" for collaboration and integrations, and Microsoft is playing catch up with Teams, the market is being validated and we are in it with an option to privately deploy anywhere, with a field tested multi tenant telephony platform, and Thirdlane Connect - and hopefully are you - our partners.

If nobody minds, I will rename this thread to better reflect its content and setup a survey to share the opinions about the winning feature priorities.

Thanks,
Alex

Alex Epshteyn
Third Lane Technologies
Multi Tenant Asterisk PBX

netriplex
netriplex's picture
Joined: 2012/01/24
Points: 100

Alex,

For what my opinion is worth...

I think CRM integration is totally different than the other "UC" features that you seem to focus on.

CRM integration from my perspective IS TELEPHONY in the sense that it makes telephony more efficient especially when dealing with customers. Screen sharing, video conferencing, etc are not in the same class because it does not nothing to help customer interactions.

However things like receptionist view, wallboard, SMS texting, etc are all things that help customer interactions and do so by make telephony more efficient.

Leaptelecom
Leaptelecom's picture
Joined: 2018/07/27
Points: 10

Adrian, I had a similar task less than two years ago while looking for the better and more lucrative overall solution. I did benchmark all of the vendors mentioned above and few more. You summed up our conclusion on 3CX with the word "greedy", I know exactly what you mean.
for us, we found thirdlane at a sweet spot, her are some observations:

From business top/bottom line perspective, third lane made most sense.

From features and flexibility, we shortlisted multiple vendors, the ones mentioned above were among them. However, after almost 1.5 years with thirdlane, several dozen implementations, features in thirdlane met every client requirement, and some of my customers are a bit demanding.

We just finished a good size implementation last week ~80 users who heavily used Salesforce CRM. Client was blown away with Connect and ease of integration to Salesforce CRM.

Funny I had similar questions to yours, ring group vs huntlist, etc... and I was also bit reluctant before committing due to the looks and UI/UX of the PBX manager portal. I told Alex during our trial that UI looks like 1990s are back. I believe this is a low hanging fruit to thirdlane as in to facelift the UI or even do minor changes to some of the older icons used. Especially seeing the UI/UX capabilities with thirdlane dev team that is evident with the sleek looking Thirdlane Connect, updating the "looks" of operation portal should be an easy feat. in short, It took a little to getting used to it, about a month, and couple implementations, and it does not bother me any longer, in fact I now love it's simplicity.

I am glad we invested in thirdlane and would not do it any other way. Every product out there has it is pros and cons, I find thirdlane worth every buck and again makes most business sense, highly stable, dependable, simple to use, ton of features (may be not all the features netriplex is looking for), and depending on the customer, but we have met every expectations so far.

hope this helps, and good luck,
Sam.

netriplex
netriplex's picture
Joined: 2012/01/24
Points: 100

Sam,

Quick chime in...

I agree and disagree on Thirdlane's web portal. I personally think as you stated later in your post that it is extremely simple and functional despite having an older look and feel. I find that too many software vendors "update" their UI to be more modern and for some reason the concept of modern look and design always seems to end up more difficult to use.

Therefore, of all the changes I would like to see Thirdlane to make to bring us back as customers, updating the web UI is NOT one of them. Another software vendor we use to provide a different service to our customers updated their application like 18 months ago to a "modern" design and it is 20 times as difficult to use than the "old" style of boring tree menus. Everything is much faster to access with 1 big tree menu than a screen icons that then drill you to the next screen of icons and options and back buttons etc. This is another area I think Thirdlane is ahead of 3CX as 3CXs web portal is "modern".

Keep me in the 90s for web design :-).

AdrianSimpson
AdrianSimpson's picture
Joined: 2019/03/13
Points: 20

Sam thanks very much for the comments, we had a conference call with one of the support engineers today and built my confidence no end on the 1990s interface. As you felt, coming from 3CX its just getting to know where everything is, and knowing that actually, with the script aspect you can pretty much do anything!

Thanks again, have a great weekend
Adrian