Snom Moves Beyond IP Phones With PBX Introduction

German IP phone maker snom on Wednesday debuted an IP-PBX system geared toward SMBs. The release, dubbed snom ONE and available in three versions, thrusts snom into the crowded market for full-solution IP-PBX systems for the first time.

"It's pretty significant, because for the many years snom has existed, we've only been an IP phone manufacturer, and now we're coming out of the chute with a full solution," said Tommy Lee, regional channel manager. "We're hoping that this raises a lot of eyebrows, because we kept the model very simple and can provide a lot for the investment partners and customers will make."

Snom, based in Berlin and with U.S. offices in Woburn, Mass., sells its three IP phone families through the channel. The company has a wide range of hardware, software and service provider partners, including Microsoft, which recently certified its snom 300 IP Phone as the first general purpose SIP phone compatible with Lync, Microsoft's UC suite.

Snom ONE, however, is a new frontier: an open source-based, Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) PBX optimized for small office/home office customers and SMBs. It uses the platform of PBXnSIP, the IP PBX technology maker also founded by snom founder Christian Stredicke. It comes in three versions: snom ONE Free (for 10 seats, and a free download), snom ONE Yellow (for 20 seats, $895), and snom ONE Blue (for 150 or more seats, at $1,495).

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Each version offers a full feature set, including hunt groups, ACD groups, mailbox, auto-attendant, conference rooms, blacklisting and paging. The Blue version is also enabled for as many as five corporate tenants. Web security is via HTTPS and call security is through TLS and SRTP, and snom ONE further supports mixed IPv4/IPv6 LAN and WAN environments.

Next: Snom's New Competition?

Each snom ONE deployment is plug-and-play with existing snom products, and works in Windows, Linux and Mac OS environments. While the snom ONE software is optimized for snom devices, Lee explained, that doesn't mean it isn't compatible with non-snom, SIP-based endpoints and soft phones, but deploying it in that case would require a more complex integration.

"We've designed it for snom phones but it works with general SIP products and soft phones," Lee said. "You could put it on an Aastra or a Grandstream. Sometimes the coordination of combining PBX 'A' with endpoint 'B' is broad on challenges because you have interoperability issues. It could work, but having it all as one house takes away that level of complexity."

Lee admits that selling a PBX software package does make snom a competitor, at least in part, to IP-PBX vendors like Digium, with whom it partners. But it isn't snom's intent to go head to head with those vendors, so much as extend the reach of its snom phone family, Lee said.

"Maybe we are indirectly," he said of competition. "But this is just software, and with a lot of them you get into hardware and other things that we aren't."