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Review - Snom 300 Phone with OCS RRS feed

  • General discussion


  • I have been testing a Snom 300 series phone, with the OCS firmware, with OCS R2.  I have no association with Snom - I thought people might like to know there is something else available other then the usual hardware devices...

    Regards

    Paul Adams


    For reference – my environment is:

    -         
    ‘Main’ PBX – Microsoft OCS R2
    -          ‘Gateway to the T1 PSTN’ & to the old Nortel system – Asterisk 1.6.0.1
    -          Netgear stacking switches – every port 1GB, respects DiffServ for use with Microsoft’s OCS
    -          Desktops – all Microsoft XP Pro


    What is it?
    - It's a stand alone VoIP phone.  Works with most SIP based PBX's - and now has a firmware to support OCS.  It's important to note it is NOT the same as a CX200 device that works via a USB cable & requires a PC connected, turned on & logged into OCS.

    - Plugs into the user's network connection, then a second ethernet cable connects the PC to the LAN.

    - Can work with it's power supply, or via POE



    Setting up the phone:
    -          One 300 Series phone, supplied with version 6 firmware.
    -          Upgraded to firmware 7 – no problems - very easy web interface on phone.
    -          Upgraded to OCS firmware (dated Feb 09) – no problems.


    Testing:
    - The phone works in one of two modes.  Either as standalone (meaning it updates & sets it's own presence) OR it compliments an already logged in OCS user's status

    -          Configured phone as ‘standalone’ OCS user (the boardroom).  Phone 'should' update presence directly to OCS - no need for user logged onto a PC.  Worked perfectly – no issues.  Phone updated presence as it should. This is a very useful option.

    -          Configured phone as myself via web admin, working in conjunction with my desktop OC client.  Phone worked to complement my presence from the desktop OC client.  Phone works as completely separate OCS device from the desktop client, meaning calls answered on the phone cannot be controlled from the desktop & visa versa.  Also - placing a call from the desktop OC client does NOT activate the phone – or visa versa (‘connecting’ the phone to the desktop client in the same way the CX200 works would make it very powerful).

    -          Cannot change the logged in OCS user from the phone itself, (done via web interface).  I understand why this is – but it makes it difficult for some of our users who share desks to use this phone.  I know the phone settings can be changed by simple HTTP requests to the phone's IP address.  Using this - might be able to write some sort of simple VBS script to run when each user logs in.

    -          When your user is logged out of OCS – the presence in OCS shows as NOT logged in - BUT – the phone still works – very useful.

    -          Configured LDAP lookup.  Very useful feature.  Pulls names & numbers form your active directory.

    -          Transfer, mute, redial – all work as expected. No issues.



    Comments:
    -          A lot of phone / functions for the money.  Excellent value for your doller.
    -          Speaker can sound a little ‘tinny’ – but it’s minor & acceptable at this cost.
    -          Ring tones out of the box not to everyone’s taste – but I have since learned you can set a properly formatted WAV file as the ring.
    -          Phone does not directly link to the Office Communicator software on the desk for placing or handling phone calls.  I tried the free Flexor Desktop Outlook intergration software but it was not the level of integration I was hoping for.  As a consumer, I would be willing to pay more for the phone to have this.


    Overall – I felt this was a better alternative then the Polycom CX200 for less money - IF you can live without the direct desktop intergration.  For my users who are 'OCS scared' - this phone is better choice as it's more like a traditional phone.

    At time of review - a CX200 was $160 CDN, the Snom 300 is $130 CDN. Improved integration with the desktop OC software would make this a very strong product.


    It should be said that the 300 is the lowest of Snom's 3xx range - and the other models offer more features / bigger screen.  Of note - the higher end models can show your contact list from OCS on the phone's screen (not sure if it correctly displays presence for those contacts or not) - the 300 cannot display these contacts.

    Also note - the 8xx range can also work with OCS - and they have an impresseive color screen model.

    And one last mention - they have a boardroom speakerphone device that can run the OCS firmware.  Using this device in the standalone mode would be perfect for a boardroom or meeting room.  It shows 'green' presence when the device was used within 15 minutes (you can set the timeout), 'away' presence if it's been longer then that - and of course, busy presence when the device is in use.

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009 6:19 PM

All replies

  • Did you actually try PoE? I have a pure PoE environment and my Snom300 would never boot if not connected to a PSU. Also, the product page does not mention PoE. All the phones above the 300 do PoE but the 300 doesn't.

    And if you've seen a 7975 the 820 isn't so impressive anymore ;) But it works just fine (I have a 300, 370 and 820 in my lab connected to OCS R2 and CCM 6.1).

    You currently get neither a list of your contacts, nor do you get presence for people you look up in AD. Also, the Tanjay line of phones supports T9, the Snom doesn't, which makes AD lookup more cumbersome.

    And you forgot one important point: Snom does real phone based presence. If you go off hook, you're "on the phone"... with MOC or Tanjay or CX200 you're only on the phone when the remote party has answered... resulting in people trying to call you when you're already in a call. Personally, I'm not much of a fan of the user being offline when moc is offline... imagine people having only a Snom deskphone and no MOC... those with a MOC wouldn't know if the person is around or not. Then again, if yuo want that, there should be an easy way to sign in / out from the Snom phone like you can do on the Tanjay, or a way to lock your phone so that your status shows up as away (like it does when you lock your PC with moc running).
    Monday, April 27, 2009 2:12 PM

  • Hi Stephan,

    No I did not try PoE - I don't have the equipment for it - thanks for the tip.


    Does a 7975 work directly with OCS - like the Snom - without an extra Cisco server?


    It's frustrating.  Most of my users have decided they do not like the CX200.  The Snom phone is perfect as just a phone (with user presence) - but it does not intergrate with the desktop like the CX200 - which is very useful once you get used to it.  My company has decided the CX700 is too expensive at $650 CDN a unit.


    Would you know of any other alternatives


    Regards

    Paul Adams
    Monday, April 27, 2009 3:54 PM
  • Hi Paul,

    I have a question, is there a way to get it working to initiate a call by the MOC on the Desktop, but call then out by the phone? Perhaps with a higher version of the snom phone instead of 300? Or another phone that can do this job? This Feature will be very important for us but we cannot find a phone that can do it.

    Thanks,
    Matthias
    Tuesday, April 28, 2009 7:08 AM
  • @Paul: The 7975 is a pure Cisco phone. It does support SIP natively like any modern Cisco phone so you could connect it to any SIP enabled PBX, but it doesn't support OCS and I'm thinking it never will (I was surprised that Snom makes devices, but then again they're the only ones and they have no manufacturer affiliation so this allows them to differentate their offering from any competing SIP phones which cannot be connected to OCS).

    @Matthias: what you're describing is PBX integration mode (RCC with dual forking).. you can either dial out from MOC or a deskphone. You can do that with any compatible PBX - you just need a TR.78 gateway (csta over sip) in between the deskphone phone system and ocs. We have this working with an Alcatel PBX and Estos as gateway - however, the only phone system to support dual forking (so incoming calls will ring both on the deskphone and MOC and you can answer them on whichever device you like) is the Nortel MCS1000 (iirc.. definitely a Nortel system).. with all the others, MOC will show a call but if you answer it, it will always be answered on your deskphone. We're curently looking if we can trick the gateway so that it will accept different extensions on the Alcatel and OCS and still tie them together so that we could set up traditional parallel ringing on the Alcatel (our primary system) and MOC, but still use the integration mode to control the deskphone - I'm not too hopeful though.

    What you can do with the Snom phones is using the Flexor CTI manager which is a software that runs on your PC and controls your Snom phone... presumably (I haven't tested so far) you could dial out via OCS that way but initiate the call from your PC.. but it wouldn't be from MOC. If Snom is open enough, it might be possible to write your own Flexor Manager alternative to control the Snom deskphone and have a MOC plugin to give you smiliar functionality to what you have in PBX integration mode (chosing from which device to dial from).. then either you send out the call as is (moc call) or instead of sending the dial command to ocs you tell the hardphone to dial out. As for incoming calls, parallel ringing and answering the call at whichever device you prefer is already there by default.

    @edit: it is possible to have the phone dial remotely: http://kb.snom.com/kb/index.php?View=entry&CategoryID=21&EntryID=40 - I tested it and it worked (my Snom phones even have dual registration on OCS and Cisco Call Manager and I'm able to chose which system do dial out from).. so, without a Nortel PBX the way you could go for full integration is get a Snom phone and write a MOC plugin which allows you to remote control your phone. There are some caveats obviously.. you need to know the credentials for your phone, the remote dialing commands must be active and you need to know the IP address of your phone. Presumably though you might be able to get at least the phone's IP somehow from OCS (might require another plugin.. like a webservice that given a sip uri tells you the registration addresses of all devices... so your MOC plugin would make a request and figure out who isn't the local machine - and if you extend the OCS plugin to not only get you the address but also type of client you could differentate between a user logged in twice on any non Snom device and a user logged into MOC and a Snom phone). If only I had time that could be an interesting project.
    Tuesday, April 28, 2009 4:30 PM
  • Stephan - your thoughts on a MOC plugin are the same as mine...

    I've also done the same as you - got dialling from the desktop working using the Snom (created a small VB app - highlight number, press control + ~) - but it does not seamlessly intergrate with MOC.

    I've got the tools to develop (VS 2008 + Vista desktop) but cannot figure out how to create a third party add-in for Communicator.


    If you have any tips or sample code to interact with MOC and create an add-in - I would be extremly grateful.


    Regards

    Paul Adams

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009 5:02 PM
  • Paul.. I figure the start would be the MOC SDK (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=ed1cce45-cc22-46e1-bd50-660fe6d2c98c) - however, I didn't find anything directly applicable.

    Knowing that you get a new context menu item when you install Live Meeting, as well as if you have MOC and Alcatel's My Instant Communicator installed, it has to be possible - so I had the question for the MOC API group (http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/communicatorsdk/threads) already typed up bit did a bit more googling before sending it, and I came across this:
    http://imwire.eventure.biz/imwire/articles/22.aspx

    It doesn't say how the parameters are being passed so that would have to be investigated - but at least the basics should be there.. you add the new menu, moc launches your application and tells it who is making the call and to whom.. so those two parameters might be all you need for the Snom phone. If not (e.g. you need to get a number instead of uri from the contact), you could use the MOC SDK to search for the contact in question and get all its properties, then make the call.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's a way to have a context sensitive popup, or integrate with a submenu of a popup (e.g. have new submenus in the call menu so that you list their numbers again but now with a subtext "from my deskphone"). You could still do that, but now you need to create your own MOC using the UccAPI (on which MOC itself is based).. but that's quite a different pair of shoes in terms of effort - but doing that would also allow you to have an option like you have in pbx integration mode where you can chose where outgoing calls are made from - your deskphone or your moc.

    Anyway, I think those are the options you have and I'm afraid I've never done any programming for MOC so far - no time to play around in the lab (you know how it is when the manager wants to see billable hours).

    Cheers
    Stephan
    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 11:37 AM
  • Hi Stephan,

    Snom 300s shipped before September 2007 did not do POE, everyhting since can do POE based on a few POE standards. Thanks to others also as we are correcting some info on our web site.
    Mike
    Thursday, April 30, 2009 3:34 PM
  • I'm using the Snom 300 as well, and as you have already said, I would really love to see a way to use better Click-To-Call functionalities. I don't like the Flexor CTI tool, as we need to register every user seperately at Flexor.

    The setup we have, is that we have 1 phone on every set of 4 desks. We use hotdesking, so people can sit on different desks every other day. This makes users unable to log in to the phone with their own account, as multiple people share the same phone. As a solution to this, the phone is logged in with a 'dummy' AD account, which does not have Enhanced Presence, so it can be called in a Response Group. This 'dummy' account is only made for the Snom desk phones, no users log in with it. The issue with this dummy-account, is that it's not bound to any user.

    The optimal solution would be that in the MOC you could click on a user in the contact list and choose 'Call with:'
    - MOC client
    - Mobile phone
    - Table 1
    - Table 2
    - Table 3
    This way people would be very flexible in their call control.

    The silly thing is... When you select multiple users, you can rightclick them and select 'Make a conference call using:' and there you can choose your mobile phone number or fill in the number of the phone you'd like to call with. So for conference calls, the features I would like to see to solve this problem are already there.


    Ruud van Strijp - Student, doing Network Infrastructure Design in the Netherlands. MCSE: 70-270, 70-284, 70-290, 70-291, 70-294, 70-297. Cisco: CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CCDP.
    Monday, June 29, 2009 8:34 AM
  • Ruud,

    There is a solution for your Snom/Response Group problem. Just… you have not found it yet.

    1. On your “Identity 1”, click SIP tab, and toggle “Report Machine State”. This will enable Snom to behave as Communicator – it will submit Presence state to OCS (do not mix with Report Phone State” which enables “In a call” when off hook.

    2. Click Preferences. Scroll and find “Status”. Set “Show status inactive after this many minutes (0 : never):” and set to “0”.

    3. Do the same for “Show status away after this many minutes (0 : never):” – set to “0”

    Save the changes and reboot the phone.

    What will happen – Snom will report “Available”, which will stay persistent, thus OCS will ring the member of the Response group every time.

    Drago

    Monday, June 29, 2009 12:14 PM
  • Thanks a lot Drago, that works indeed! I did it by disabling Enhanced Presence for the users by modifying the msRTCSIP-OptionFlags variable in Adsiedit to 128.

    But this isn't a solution to the problem of not being able to use click-to-call functionalities for our users. Does anyone know any way to do that?
    Ruud van Strijp - Student, doing Network Infrastructure Design in the Netherlands. MCSE: 70-270, 70-284, 70-290, 70-291, 70-294, 70-297. Cisco: CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CCDP.
    Monday, June 29, 2009 1:20 PM
  • The truth is: don't buy a Yugo if you want Cadillac.

    Snom, Catalina and Tanjay have different functionality, purpose and performance. An entry clerk will never (most probably) initiate conference call, hense Snom will be a good budget endpoint. His boss, however, will do it quite often thus Tanjay comes to play. Believe me - if Snom were to target $500 - $700 market, they could easily add USB support.

    Propper planning and is the key...

    Drago
    Monday, June 29, 2009 1:35 PM
  • Perhaps Microsoft can make some changes in their next OCS release. Just a button 'Call with my:' would be enough. And strangely, this is already possible when you select 2 or more contacts at the same time to make a conference call.
    Ruud van Strijp - Student, doing Network Infrastructure Design in the Netherlands. MCSE: 70-270, 70-284, 70-290, 70-291, 70-294, 70-297. Cisco: CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CCDP.
    Monday, June 29, 2009 1:43 PM
  • Paul,
    do you know if Snom has an OCS fimware for their dect phone (M3)?

    iwgroup
    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 2:26 PM

  • A quick look at Snom's forum says no - that was Feb 09

    http://forum.snom.com/index.php?showtopic=957


    Regards

    Paul Adams
    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:13 PM
  • Hi all
    How do you rate that snom does not have the Microsoft wordmark "Optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator"?
    rgds
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 11:53 AM

  • I think Snom will get there eventually - but what does "Optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator" actually garrentee???  Who you going to complain to when it does not work in the way you are expecting?

    In all cases - I think it's buyer beware - but forums like this help decide what's a solid, reliable product & what is not.  They also help you decide what a product can & cannot do - for example - the Snom does NOT link back to the desktop OCS client directly for phone control.


    I have no connection with Snom - and as someone said earlier - don't buy a yugo if you want a cadillac - BUT - my users were rejecting the CX200 USB phones - the CX700 was too expensive.  I tried the Snom 300.  I was surprised how well it worked.


    It works for what my users need it for - at a price point lower then the CX200 (and it got cheaper when I purchased in bulk).  It's not perfect (no USB link back to the desktop) - but I still say it's a lot of function & technology for little money.


    Now - if there was a cheaper, cut-down version of the Polycom CX700 for about $250 - then I'd be interested.  Price is definetly a factor - especially at the moment.


    Regards

    Paul Adams

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 5:00 PM
  • Hi Paul
    I agree. I'm in the situation that my users prefer a Snom300 over a CX200, and a CX700 is to expensive for everybody. I clearly understand and share your points.

    thx & rgds Stiwi

    Monday, September 21, 2009 4:50 PM

  • If you want some tips - the phone are reliable ONCE you get them logging in as an OCS user, but this can sometimes take a few attempts.

    Whenever you create a new user for an OCS phone, login ONCE from a normal desktop OC client.  I do not understand why this is, but I can never get a Snom phone to connect as this user until I do this one time only.  Maybe it validates the user in some way???


    If you get any problems with the phone - I follow these steps in this order & it fixes issues:

    1) Re-input the OCS username & password - reboot (even if you are sure they are correct - just do it - trust me)
    2) If 1 does not work, reset the phone to factory settings, reinput details, reboot the phone.
    3) If 2 does not work, reapply the OCS firmware, then do a factory reset, reinput details, then reboot.


    I've had a few phones that needed the firmware applying more then once to get it all working fine.  Once they start working, they seem to continue working OK.


    Regards

    Paul Adams
    Monday, September 21, 2009 5:11 PM