How dead is the PBX really?


Even by , the PBX has been lingering for years, at least since 2007 when it announced Office Communications Server 2007 and then-Chairman Bill Gates claimed it foreshadowed the demise of the PBX.

But PBX sales are still significant enough that Infonetics tracks them as a separate category in which Cisco, ShoreTel and Siemens are the leaders, he says, by virtue of their IP PBX sales. And while there may be a shift from PBXs toward UC, that's not likely to happen overnight.

For example, the shift from traditional TDM PBXs to IP PBXs has been ongoing for more than 10 years. But in the United States now, 75% of phone systems are now IP, so a quarter of them are still TDM, and among those IP PBXs, some use TDM technology with older phones, Machowinski notes. "My point is it's a big market and it takes time to change the trajectory of a market," he says.

Shifting from PBXs to UC and collaboration platforms will take a long time as well, he says.

Making a distinction between pure PBXs that are voice-only and their eventual replacement by UC servers that support voice, video, instant messaging, e-mail, conferencing and collaboration is difficult. For example, Cisco's Unified Communications Manager counts as a PBX. So will Avaya's Aura communications server that was introduced this year once Avaya starts reporting revenues from it, he says.