Solved VoIP telephony advice

Hello everyone,

I have been asked to start looking into creating a VoIP server to save our company money. My experience using VoIP is reduced to Skype. So I do not have a good starting point here. I wonder if anyone could tell me what sort of things I need to get this project off the ground? What software can I have that is stable and runs on a FreeBSD 10 jail? What supplier have you guys tried and like the most? Will it really save us that much money?

Thank you in advance

You'll most likely want to research Asterisk. That's the most common VoIP PBX system out there, and can do just about anything VoIP-related you can think of. You can run it on FreeBSD, or purchase an appliance that comes with it pre-installed and pre-configured.
Risking to offend some Asterisk fans, based on my personal experience, I'd use Asterisk only if I needed lots of gadgets or happened to have exotic hardware. The reason being that (according to my own personal experience) I had lots of trouble with Asterisk and feel that it's not well designed and engineered and full of quite crappy places. The two major plus points of Asterisk are that pretty much every telephony hardware offers drivers for it and that there is lots of community support (as well as paid support) available.

If your needs are purely or mainly VoIP you might want to consider alternatives like FreeSwitch or yate (FreeBSD port/package available).
My need is purely to make phone calls. I might need an answering machine but that is all really.

I have no need for "press 1 for customer service, press 2 for billing". We have no switchboard and only eight desk phones for each employee.
In that case I strongly suggest that you take a good look at yate.

As Yate's performance is supposed to be considerably higher than Asterisk's and considering that you have relatively few users you might consider as an additional advantage that Yate should run perfectly fine on a small, low power consumption, and silent low-end box, for instance on a Via C7. I happen to run one at about 15W in total. I mention this as a "telephony central" usually runs 24/7.

I'd like to add a somewhat warning reminder, though: You should consider the fact that your new phone system is/might be connected to a) subscriber line (from some provider) and b) to all telephony devices you might have, incl. fax, door opener, etc. This is feasible with a VoIP system but it will require some planning and possibly some additional equipment. Note that in particular faxes are known to often be ugly beasts.

Based on personal experience I'd also strongly suggest to make sure your network (in particlar switches and routers) supports QOS as VoIP traffic is quite timing sensitive. Hint: phones deal with rather small data volumes but they transmit (albeit very small) packets very frequently (100 - 1000s/s). This can get pretty ugly pretty quickly when (as is not uncommon in corporate networks) jumbo frames are enabled.
Thank you very much rmoe, I was planning to install it on the current Dell PowerEdge 2900 R310server inside a jail. Is that a bad idea or will I be better off buying a Via C7?

Also which provider would you recommend?

To be honest I feel really out of my comfort zone here, I'll welcome any good link to explain how to run a VoIP telephony system (yes, I have Googled it already).

I don't know much about VoIP and this isn't a FreeBSD based solution, but I use Ooma for my home phone service and have absolutely no complaints. They offer a business version that you may want to look and since your a novice in VoIP.
I've just been playing with jails and have successfully installed fusionpbx/freeswitch.

I have used this in production commercially for a couple of years now but this is the first time I have tried it on FreeBSD properly. It does seem to be working very well and I have configured the jails to use a ZFS HAST pool so I can failover between servers, this seems to be working well too.