How dead is the PBX really?

The role of the PBX is in importance, but it's still too early to issue a death certificate, according to Infonetics.

PBXs took a big hit when the economy faltered two years ago -- sales dropped 25% in 2009 -- and they have been struggling to rebound, says Matthias Machowinski, an analyst with Infonetics, but they are far from out, as Microsoft suggested last week with its announcement of its latest unified communications platform , a renaming of its Office Communications Server line.

"Microsoft likes to rattle the cage," he says, but the fact remains that the major advances made with Lync 2010 make the platform better suited to replace traditional PBXs by adding missing features, an acknowledgement that PBX features in some form are a must.

The hope, apparently, is to convince customers that, "Lync is really ready to replace any PBX you have," as was claimed last week by Microsoft's Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president for Office, Lync and speech, who declared, "The era of the PBX, folks, is over."

The term PBX is used to talk about phone systems -- either TDM, IP or hybrid -- that handle voice-call control, a feature that is rolled to a greater or lesser degree in UC platforms.