Used to be, adding a phone to your office PBX meant waiting days or weeks for a technician to come out and program your phone panel at $80 an hour. Oh, wait, that's still the norm for legacy PBXs, isn't it? And it wouldn't hurt to have a networking certification or two before you attempt to configure most IP PBXs.
Try Avaya's One-X Quick Edition. It's the first truly do-it-yourself IP PBX any entrepreneur can set up in about 10 min-utes. The secret sauce is a mixture of peer-to-peer networking and Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP. They shortcut the client/server complexity of most PBXs, making installation just two steps.
Step 1: Plug one end of a Cat 5 cable into Quick Edition's Ethernet switch or other port on your wired network, and plug the other end into an Avaya desk set. Step 2: Rest while the phone configures itself, picks an IP address, and prompts you for a station name and password. My first phone took six minutes to install; the second, less than two minutes. Schedule two minutes for each desk set you add up to the network limit of 20.
Quick Edition doesn't yet work over the Wi-Fi networks populating home offices. But most small offices are already wired, says Geoffrey Baird, Avaya's vice president of communications appliances division, and Wi-Fi support, handsets and cellular/Wi-Fi handoffs are coming in 2007. Expandable to Avaya's next-largest system via software, Quick Edition will eventually be as functional as the company's big PBXs.
It already sports a full menu of intra-mural calling features like automated phone attendant, individual and corporate phone books, desktop voice mail with e-mail alerts, and call forwarding to a cell or home phone. It also works with the usual premium services from Baby Bells and a growing list of VoIP providers found on Avaya's website. These features don't require a manual or arcane code combinations to configure. Just punch your phone's well-labeled buttons until the right context-sensitive menu pops up on its big LCD.
You should be able to find a two-phone Quick Edition starter kit for about $1,000 from most retail and e-tail phone providers.