Need VoIP system rec, cloud or on-prem

The latest thread I could find on this here was more than a couple years, so I’m asking again.

I need to replace a Cisco CallManager Express VoIP system. The church runs around 300 on Sundays, myself (many years in networking as my day job) and two other network guys do the volunteer IT support. We will need to replace the current switches with POE switches but that won’t be a problem.

Whatever system we land with, I still want to do the “day to day” configuration, so I’m looking for something with a great GUI. There are 8 Staff phones, and maybe a few for the kitchen, nursery etc. As I write this I realize cell phones have largely negated the need to have phones all over the building, so I think most of the Cisco phones currently deployed will go away. We currently get our dial tone over a PRI T1 but we can convert to SIP no problem.

My must-haves would be-

  • Good /intuitive GUI
  • Auto Attendant recordings/prompts can be recorded over the phone, or uploadable file
  • iOS or Android app for extension presence on mobile
  • Can be used with an overhead paging system

I would be interested in fully hosted if the price was right, but I think it’s more likely we will be doing it on-prem. I looked a bit at 3CX for on-prem, it doesn’t look bad and it seems like there is a great support community, which is a plus.

If you have a system or platform you’d recommend, please let me know.

We host PBX’s if you’re interested. You can check us out at FreePBX is a great solution if you want to host it yourself.


We have been using 3CX on premises for a number of years. It checks the boxes on your 4 bulleted items above. We have over 100 phones and we do have 3CX connected to our paging system. The pricing is very reasonable. Apps are available for both Apple and Android and those are updated frequently and work very well. The apps even handle text messaging to/from our church phone numbers. This is good for those who don’t wish to use their personal numbers for calls and texting.

3CX offers a free version. I would suggest setting that up to try out things. The free version does not include all features, but plenty to get a feel for how the system works.

We run 3CX on a VM. If that is not an option for you, a system to support your number of users would run fine on a Raspberry Pi, so no major expense for hardware.

I agree with Bob. We have been using 3CX on prem since 2016 with no issue. The licensing is done by number of concurrent calls instead extensions or devices, so it was inexpensive in comparison to others that we looked at. The free one supports 4 simultaneous calls.

Thanks for the info everyone. 3CX is probably the direction I’ll head then. I appreciate the feedback.

Check out the Grandstream UCM systems too. Its an appliance and doesn’t require a host OS. There are no licensing costs, affordable, very reliable, and they are simple to use. We have one running for probably 5 plus years now. It is full featured too.

The have models that support SIP trunks, PRI, FXO and FXS connections.

We have been using 3CX for over a year and it has done everything we need.
Here are some details of our system:
32 Simultaneous calls
Flowroute is our carrier
Our system runs on a VM in Azure so we don’t have to depend on anything on-premises
We have different auto-attendants for normal business hours and after hours.
The system is configured so our employees are not required to use the 3CX app for basic features. By default, calls are forwarded to their mobile number and voice mail is sent to their email.
Inbound faxing via 3CX (we use Humblefax for outbound faxing).
Outbound SMS
Inbound SMS sent to groups so multiple people can respond
Fanvil phones
Different 911 addresses for hard phones at different campuses
We had a vendor set up the VM and do the initial configuration of the system. They offer month-to-month support as needed.

I can give you prices for everything if necessary.

Steven, thanks for this. What vendor did you use for the install?

We used a company called Cytranic. They are local to our area. We found them through the 3CX Partners page.

We hosted Zultys MX solution on our VMWare stack and deliver elastic SIP to it via Twilio across our primary internet line. We got ROI in 13 months and have pushed 52k a year back into our budget via savings over what we were doing before. It gives a physical & softphone option along with a mobile app. We love it… we also love the Elastic SIP with Twilio, our Rock team was using them to deliver SMS to Rock.