Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Avaya IP Office: Unable to make calls

For some reason we couldn't make any outgoing call yesterday for about 15 minutes. When I called into our PBX vendor...surprise they blamed the carrier.

Anyway here is the email I sent to support:

At 4:27 1/14/08 for approximately 10 to 15 minutes we were unable to make any outgoing calls. When dialing we would just get dead air. I checked with our network vendor and they did not show any problems with the T1 line. The problem either cleared itself or one of your technicians cleared it without talking to me.

I called Avaya Business Partner technical support at about 4:30; no technicians were available but receptionist indicated one was going to be paged and would call me back on my cell phone. As of 4:50 no one had called.

I logged a trouble ticket (ME-00000-000000) at 4:31.

I’m beginning to suspect that the IP office unit might have hardware problems as we have been experiencing a number of unusual behaviors (reboots, unable to make calls, voice quality problems, paging issues);

Here's the note I sent this morning when the "techs" were here to fix it...

We’ve had the T1 installed for more than 2 years with perhaps 1 failure in that time. A T1 failure every 14 days (which is about what we’ve been seeing) seems unlikely. The failure was not detected by the vendor on their network (I called an spoke with them yesterday). Although possible, it’s unlikely that the connection from the IAD to the network suddenly became flakey. This makes me suspect that there is a problem between the IAD and the PBX or on the PBX. Tech1 was looking at the log last night; what did he find around 4:30 when the switch failed? I’ve forwarded to Tech1/Tech2 the vendor contact; have they spoken with the network vendor tech?

IP Office: Trying to fix the voice quality issue

Well two "techs" from our Avaya SMB Expert Business partner showed up today to try to fix the lousy voice quality on our IP Office system. (The voice quality on IP Office, using IP office phones internally is roughly cell phone quality.) They attached a Fluke network monitor trying to identify the issues. At my suggestion, they did reground the system.

They haven't found anything yet, but are running around resetting phones to make sure that all the phones are using G711 coding. You would have thought that they would have set up the system correctly at the beginning.

Stay tuned for more updates on the voice quality.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Avaya IP Office: Phone Manager -- What were they thinking?

I have to say that I've met a new low in bad applications from big companies--the Avaya Phone Manager Pro (works--using the term loosely--with IP Office). Let's see what wrong with it:

  • Doesn't work with Vista: vista has been out for more than a year and is the choice of lots of business users. It can't be that hard to make the program work with vista! (Actually, the application barely works with Visa, the softphone doesn't work at all.)
  • Completely unique skins: the program doesn't pick up any of the windows colors or themes. For some reason the kid that programmed it decided that he liked brushed metal--which doesn't look anything like windows in general or the phones. If it was to mimic the phones the application should use dark gray type on a light gray background. (The Avaya phones have almost no contrast on the screens.)
  • It's a PC application; you'd think you could record voice menus using the PC. No! (Remember, we're Avaya we think like Western Electric.)
  • You can sort of control your voice mail from the application; however you can't forward your messages to email, save them on your computer or even forward them to another extension from the PC application.
  • You can't control how voice mail to email works using Phone Manager. This option is only available via an obscure setting on the phone.
  • Number displays can't be formatted. Phone numbers display 99085551234; the probably could have tossed the programmer a couple of more bones and had it displayed as 9 908-555-1234 (for extra credit, they could of allowed a formatting string).
  • The caller ID information isn't displayed with the voicemail tab (but is displayed in the other call listings).
  • There is a check for update under the help menu, but it's not yet implemented (yo...we are on release 4.20 now!)
  • How many different speed dial lists can we have: the speed dial on phone manager are stored locally on your computer and are completely separate from the user speed dials stored on the phone.
  • Speed dials for the internal have to be added one at a time (did the programmer ever hear of shift-click?).
  • The profile is stored on the local machine and in a non-standard location; re-installing the application trashes the profile.
  • Someone else pointed out that the application doesn't work with Citrix servers (can't confirm this as we don't use one).

If you are considering an IP Office system, look pretty hard at the flaws in Phone Manager. They are indicative of the quality of IP Office.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Office Phone Systems

I'm a technology manager for a small professional services firm with about 50 employees and we're currently going through the process of upgrading our phone system. The process sucks--phone system manufacturers are still in the dark ages, haven't a clue how to design software and the local dealers are still pining for the deals of dealing with the big-haired "telephone lady".

My company is located in the Eastern Massachusetts area, with a mix of technology sophisticated users and clueless ones. Mostly everyone is on a PC but we support about 10 Macs for creative users. Presenting a professional appearance is critical to us--we have 2 receptionists and senior executives phones must be personally answered at all times. Overall, we don't ask for a lot from a phone system. Ring, answer, cover, page, voice mail. You'd think that a phone system would exist that does this.

In this blog, I've changed some of the names. I hate to single out our local Avaya dealer as being particularly incompetent. I suspect that they all are equally clueless. If you'd like more details on the specifics, contact me privately.

Tomorrow's posting will be on our old phone system.