Not quite Enterprise grade

The advertised:
Ooma office’s website reads: “Ooma Office is an enterprise-grade phone service built for small businesses so you can be more professional.”

The truth:
‘Enterprise-like’ not ‘Enterprise Grade’

My goal in taking time out of my day to write this is two fold; 1.To prevent others from wasting their time. 2. Encourage the Ooma engineers to improve their product (reach out to me, I’ll show you how to enable these features) I’ll be posting a full review on my syndicated blog in the coming months. I’m providing feedback here in hopes of getting engineering response and will be glad to include it into the final.

My background: Network/telecommunications engineer/programmer- Crestron, AMX, Polycom, Avaya, Cisco and blah blah blah

To be fair, I like where Ooma is headed and in many ways they provide a great product and service, but they’re a bit ahead of themselves in describing their service as ‘enterprise grade’.

Though ‘Enterprise’ within the technology industry can be an ambiguous term, it is synonymous with scalability and the ability to be both centrally and remotely managed. There are several abilities and features expected at the Enterprise level of ip telephony which Ooma lacks.

For this write-up I’m referencing a brand within reach of almost all small to medium sized businesses- Yeaklink. Yeaklink T2(X)p series ip phones offer most of the ‘Enterprise-sized’ functionality, while remaining at a reasonable price point.

First off- Ooma only allows use of ip phones purchased directly from Ooma. This should have been the first red flag. I have yet to get a factful technical explanation on this. They at first referenced a ‘partnership’ with the phone manufacturer and a special firmware installed by their engineering group, but upon arrival and remotely logging into the devices, the firmware version is a published publicly available firmware version. The only thing I saw was that it appeared Ooma has preloaded some of the standard control calls to make the initial setup easier. I didn’t think much of this… at first.

Ooma locks down and completely restricts access to the ip phones.
During the initial provisioning process, the Ooma office appliance changed the administration password on the yealink T21P.

So what right? I’ll just utilize the Ooma office appliance to utilize remote management. Wrong. Ooma does not provide any remote management of the ip phones.

Directory managment

Enterprise environment: you’d simply run a script (or log into the individual phone) to populate the link to your phone directory as well as populate essential phone numbers which should be on speed dial on every phone. (like tech support for instance)
Ooma environment: Users take a step back in time to candy bar phone texting (who misses playing snake on that old Nokia?!) and input every individual name and number into their speed dial.

VPN operation:

Enterprise Environment: run a script or remotely log into the device and remotely program that device to prepare it for home office VPN use.

Ooma environment: Incapable-Can’t utilize their devices over VPN using Ooma.

Forwarding options:

Enterprise environment: script the ip phone for a call back to the IP PBX (in this case it would be the Ooma office appliance) to allow the user to set up simultaneous ring (or rolling after number of rings) to a designated number like a cell phone. Many ip phones actually make this easier and build it into the device, such as the yealink t21p.

Ooma environment: Almost but not quite and more work for the user. The closest that can be done in this case is the user must have an ooma log in, and log into ooma office, set up a simultaneous ring the the cell phone but it would always ring. Imagine sitting at your desk all day, and on every call both phones ring…whichever one you don’t answer shows a missed call.

There are a few more features which are a bit more trivial, but the aforementioned (in my opinion) keep Ooma from rightfully being able to claim to have an ‘Enterprise’ phone system.

In my latest deployment, I could actually provide these features to the users while also using Ooma, but they’ve refused to provide the administrator password for the ip phones (which they don’t even own).

Feel free to respond to this thread with further questions, I’ll be glad to answer whether the advertised features of the IP Phones can ACTUALLY be used with Ooma.

To the Ooma engineers:

You’ve got a pretty cool product for what it is, within a profitable niche… why market it for what it isn’t?
What is the real reason you refuse to provide direct remote access to the user-owned ip phones? And is it worth losing out on potential customers?
Are any of these features planned or slated for future release?
Have you considered allowing elevated access to telecom professional installers?