Voice over IP systems can save money and reduce support hassles for time-starved system administrators. Unless it's a Swyx VoIP system, as Andrew Webb and Kat Orphanides discovered in our review.
In the current climate of financial belt-tightening, many small businesses are replacing out-dated and expensive-to-maintain hardware phone systems with software based VoIP systems. Many opt for open source systems based on Linux and Asterisk communication server software, but there are also several Windows-based options. One of these is the SwyxExpress, a small business VoIP server aimed at the 20-user office.
On unpacking the mini-tower server, the first thing that struck us was the lightness of the case, which felt cheap. Inside was an Intel desktop board with on-board shared graphics, 2GB of memory, a 1.8GHz Intel Celeron 430 processor and a single 80GB SATA hard disk, 40GB of which is occupied by a rescue partition. This system has none of the redundancy that would be expected in a server costing this much and all of the components are cheap.
We were expecting to simply plug the system in, set up the networking and start configuring the PBX software…
We were expecting to simply plug the system in, set up the networking and start configuring the PBX software. However, the initial Windows configuration had not been carried out. We had to wait whilst it went through hardware detection and a reboot, enter the supplied Windows Server 2008 R2 product key, activate Windows ourselves, and apply a slew of Windows updates, all of which took quite some time.
Although the system was set up for the UK, some software, notably Adobe Acrobat Reader, was installed in German. With the system finally fully installed and updated, we ran the SwyxWare config program, ready to start configuring our new phone system, only to experience further delays as it installed various components, including MS SQL server, and Windows Update was needed again to bring them up to date.
From this point, things became more complicated. We test using a VoIP account from a remote provider using the industry-standard Asterisk communication server. Unfortunately, configuring the Swyx server to talk to it was far more complicated than expected, especially for a system that bills itself as simple to configure.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 64-bit
1.8GHz Intel Celeron 430
Intel DG41TX motherboard
2GB DDR3 RAM
80GB SATA2 hard disk