Choosing right CTI boards is difficult with lot of choices available in the market, at many attractive prices. For example, a digital CTI board with 1-E1 board can now be purchased at US$200 in India. And a four port E1 boards can be purchased at less than $800 in India. So, days of Dialogic costing $1000 for single E1 days are long gone now!
While prices seem very attractive, but how do these boards perform in real life ? While these boards have been in the market a while, still Dialogic, Donjin, Aculab boards are holding their forte! The pricing look so attractive with similar features, if this was the pricing in SmartPhone World, I feel, these brands would have got wiped out long back!
Personally, I would always choose Dialogic ( or Dialogic Equivalent) boards over any other boards. And this sentiment would be echoed by many in IVR industry. So what is that parameter which sets Dialogic apart from other low cost CTI Boards ? And that might be clue to how to choose the right CTI board for your IVR System.
1. On Board Processing
On board processing capacity is what sets Dialogic or Dialogic Equivalent boards apart from the rest! This in turn is very crucial in predicting reliability of IVR System. Here is how – When a CTI Board uses processing power, memory of the host computer, it would be very difficult how it would behave when number of calls increases. Its mainly because of inherent problems in the operating systems and other application installed in the host computer. Even while using a dedicated system for IVR application with fixed number of channels, some new applications, or some patch of OS may get installed in future automatically and that would make the reliability of the IVR System unpredictable. Apart from this, host computer does many other processing while telecom protocols requires real-time processing which the operating system of the host computer may not treat likewise. So, the bottom line is, it is always better if all telecom related processing are done on-board without using resources of Host Computer.
Support System can be compared with ‘Ejection Seat and Parachute’ of a fighter jet. If its not deployed, its always better. But then when it has to be deployed it must work! Support by Dialogic is almost legendary. While a person purchasing an equipment with $200, may like to wait wait 48 hours for support for that equipment. Sadly, IVR Systems can not remain shut for 48 hours else whole point of installing IVR System is lost! Traditional CTI boards have lot of documentation available which are complete information to install and configure the board. But for many CTI Boards for Asterisk ( or equivalent), a beginner may struggle even to learn that they have to open certain ports in the Asterisk Server in order to make a test call using SIP Softphone!
3. Cost of Reliability
While $200 seems very attractive, but how about cost of reliability ? Buy buying a card at $200, what are the risks of downtime, poor support, poor access to information ? Would those be costlier than $200 ?
So, before choosing CTI Boards, one must consider above points, besides the attractive price!