Elastix and FreePBX are two of the most popular open source PBX software platforms currently available. As such a comparison of Elastic versus FreePBX is definitely worthwhile if you are researching a solution for your business.
This article compares Elastix vs FreePBX and takes a look at both the differences and similarities of each of these solutions.
Please note that both of these solutions are packaged bundles that run on top of Asterisk software. They are effectively easy to use Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) that control and configure an Asterisk installation.
What is Elastix PBX and FreePBX Software?
With offices in several countries, Elastix is much more than just free open source PBX software. The company has been around for over 10 years and at time of writing over 100,000 Elastix servers have been registered worldwide in addition to over 3.5 million software downloads.
Acquired by Sangoma the IP phone manufacturer in January of 2015, FreePBX (or Schmooze) delivers a powerful and feature rich PBX solution. The software bundle is installed on a Linux server and is configured via a standard web browser to provide a fully SIP compatible IP telephony call management solution.
Elastix versus FreePBX Feature Comparison
As both of these software solutions interface with Asterisk, they have very similar features and functionality that is frequently changing, and dependant on which version of Asterisk the software supports, and the rate of development of new versions of software that each provider can release.
Since software versions and available features are changing so frequently, we recommend that you visit the following locations to ensure that you have accurate and up to date information:
A quick scan of either of the above pages clearly demonstrates that these are both powerful and advanced PBX solutions with a very comprehensive feature set available.
License Based Advanced Feature Modules
Although these are free open source solutions, there are still some costs involved if you wish to purchase certain advanced functionality that not everyone or every company may need. These are listed as follows:
Elastix License Based Modules
- DINOMI Call Center Module - While there is a community based free version, the more powerful pro version with additional features currently costs $60 per seat.
- High Availability Add-on - Cost is $199 per node where a node is one server. Since this is high availability you would need at least 2 servers to run the module.
FreePBX License Based Commercial Modules
Note that license duration is for 25 years unless otherwise stated.
- Extension Routing - Easily control which extension can use specific outbound routes. License cost is $39.
- Endpoint Manager - Auto-provision templates and configuration for over 220 phones and devices. License cost is $75.
- Sysadmin Pro - Provides additional functionality for PBX control and management such as FTP server and Dynamic DNS. License cost is $25.
- Xact Dialer - Enables outbound broadcast functionality. License cost is $795 for 25 years or $395 for a one year.
- FaxPro - Adds additional functionality to the standard Fax module. License cost is $150 for 25 years or $65 for one year.
- Call Recording Reports - Powerful functionality for managing call recording reporting. License cost is $99.
- Q-Xact - Additional ACD and queue management functionality. License cost is $795 for 25 years or $395 for a one year.
- Outbound Call Limiting - Allows for the creation of calling rules that can prevent users from repeated calling the same number for marketing purposes. License cost is $195 for 25 years or $65 for a one year.
- CallerID Management Module - Allows the caller-ID to be changed on a per extension basis. License cost is $65.
- VM Notify - This is effectively a type of hunt group for voicemail where the actual mailbox will call a list of contacts one by one until the voicemail is listened to. License cost is $75.
- Appointment Reminder - Allows your PBX to automate appointment reminders and allows for scheduling of calls on specific dates and times and the frequency of re-tries. License cost is $795 for 25 years or $395 for a one year.
- Zulu UC - Unified communications web interface that integrates with FreePBX to provide features such as SMS, faxing and more. License cost is $199.
Comparison of Elastix and FreePBX Products and Services
Besides free open source PBX software, both of these companies offer a number of fee based products and services.
Elastix Products and Services
- IP PBX Servers - Elastix offers a choice of 3 different custom servers that vary in features depending on your calling and connectivity needs. The microUCS supports up to 15 extensions and up to 4 concurrent calls. The miniUCS supports up to 50 extensions and up to 32 concurrent calls in addition to supporting up to 8 internal analog ports and 1 E1/T1 port. The highest end server is the NLX4000 which supports up to 300 extensions and up to 120 concurrent calls in addition to supporting up to 48 internal analog ports and up to 4 E1/T1 ports.
- IP Phones - 3 different phone models are available from Elastix. These are the 1 line LXP150, the 2 line LXP180 and the 3 line LXP250.
- GSM Gateways - The EGW200 GSM gateway allows you to connect your PBX network to the cellular GSM network. A good solution if there is no other way to connect to the Internet.
- SIP Firewall - SIP packet inspection for up to 50 concurrent calls.
- Monitoring Services - Designed specifically for Elastix servers, the monitoring service comes in 3 flavors at 3 different price points for varying levels of features. The Basic plan costs $9.99 per month (or $99 per year), the Premium plan costs $19.99 per month (or $199 per year) and the Enterprise plan costs $119.99 per month (or $1,200 per year).
- Training - Basic, Intermediate, Professional and Expert level courses are available which also allow participants to gain different levels of certification. These classes are also available online and prices range from $300 to $700 per class.
- Paid Support - This is available either on-demand or on a subscription basis. The on-demand paid support comes in bundles of either 1, 5 or 10 hours at costs of $140, $663 and $1,256 so the larger the bundle, the smaller the effective hourly cost. These rates are for 24x7 support and there is also an option to purchase slightly cheaper bundles that only provide 8x5 support. Annual support subscriptions come in either Standard ($1,165 per year) or Advanced ($2,329 per year).
- Custom Development - If you need help customizing your installation, setup or configuration, development hours are available for purchase at $60 per hour.
- Rebranding - Hardware, Software and support rebrands are available at a cost of $3,000 per version or $6,000 annually if you want to continue to update. This is an important (yet expensive) option if you need a branded GUI for admin and users.
FreePBX Products and Services
- FreePBX Appliances - These are servers that are custom built to run FreePBX software. They are simply called FreePBX Phone System 10, 60, 100, 300, 500 and 1000 where the model number refers to the maximum number of users that each device can support. Prices range from $495 for the 10 to $5,995 for the 1000.
- Sangoma Phones - 3 IP phone models are available from Sangoma which are custom designed to work with FreePBX. These are the 2 line, 10/100 Ethernet S300, the 4 line 10/100/1000 Ethernet, color screen S500 and the 6 line, 10/100/1000 Ethernet, color screen S700.
- SIP Station SIP Trunks - This is simply an unlimited SIP trunk that costs $24.99 per month for each trunk. Note that one trunk can handle one call at a time.
- Hosted FreePBX - If you prefer to run your PBX in the cloud, then this may be a good option. Three plans are available that offer varying levels of functionality starting at $34.99 per month for the Aluminum plan, $39.99 per month for the Iron plan and $44.99 per month for the Steel plan.
- Training - Beginner and advanced training classes are available at varying times during the year.
- Paid Support - Current rates are $395 for 2 hours, $695 for 5 hours, $1,350 for 10 hours or you can contact sales for pricing if you have a custom job.
- Custom OEM Program - For a one time setup fee and an ongoing annual fee, you can customize your GUI skin and headers.
- FaxStation - Replaces an ATA to connect directly to your fax machine and provide reliable T.38 faxing. Complete fax service that comes with a DID for a low monthly fee.
How to get Support for Open Source PBX Installations?
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of choosing an open source software solution is that there is typically a large community that is always there to help. So before you purchase some paid support hours, try getting help from the Elastix or FreePBX communities. These are effectively forums with thousands of posts and typically have hundreds of users online at any point in time. So if your question has not already been answered in the community (do a quick search), then you will likely be pleasantly surprised at how quickly someone (who is likely extremely knowledgable) will post a response.
The support communities can be found at the following locations:
Articles, WiKi's and videos are also a great source of information.
Hardware and Software System Requirements for Elastix and FreePBX
Both of these software packages specify similar hardware and software requirements for the server, the operating system and the Asterisk version. While you can get away with a somewhat low end system, it is always worth considering what you will need to scale as your requirements grow.
|Processor||Dual Core||i5 Class (Quad core Xeon or greater preferred)|
|RAM||2GB||2GB (4GB + preferred)|
|Storage||10GB||100GB (250GB + preferred)|
|Operating System||Linux based, 32 or 64 bit||Linux based, 32 or 64 bit|
|Asterisk Version||Asterisk 11||Asterisk 11 or 13|
Table 1: System Requirements
How to Install Elastix?
This has been covered in great detail in our article titled Elastix Setup Guide.
How to Install FreePBX?
This has also been covered in great detail in another deep dive article titled FreePBX Setup Tutorial.
This has been a somewhat eye opening comparison of FreePBX versus Elastix open source PBX software. While the core packages are certainly free to download, there are a lot of potentially expensive items to consider prior to using one of these solutions for your business.
If your business just needs basic features then open source is definitely a good option. If your business needs more advanced features then one of these open source PBX solutions can still be a good option, but you should perform a cost estimation that includes items such as training, support, licenses and equipment. Once you have completed the cost estimate it would also be prudent to do a comparison with other calling solutions such as hosted VoIP. The results may surprise you but will ultimately help you make the right decision for your business.
If you have experience with either of these packages (or any others such FusionPBX), please submit a comment using the form below and let us know your opinion.