Panasonic KX-NS1000 Review -The Next Generation IP-PBX
Panasonic KX-NS1000v3 Review
The KX-NS1000 is one of several on-premises PBX servers manufactured by Japanese electronics multinational Panasonic.
Easily confused with the very similarly named KX-NSX1000, the NS1000 shares a number of key features with the later model – both are SIP supporting IP-PBX solutions aimed at the midmarket, with a range of inbuilt UC software applications accessed via a licensing system, and a flexible range of deployment options.
If the NSX1000 has seen Panasonic make a play at developing a ‘next generation’ IP-PBX system, focusing heavily on user focused flexibility in terms of device integration and remote/mobile access, then the NS1000 perhaps started out as more of a ‘traditional’ VoIP server.
However, by the version 3 release, it was starting to display some of the core features which would become hallmarks of the NSX1000, namely a range of multiple site network integration options and flexible wireless and mobile device support.
In marketing the KX-NS1000, Panasonic claims that the system was designed with the real world communications needs of businesses in mind – requirements such as simplifying and improving communications, reducing costs, improving productivity and making workplace organisation and operations more flexible.
It highlights several features of the system intended to achieve these goals, such as the modular hardware and software architecture which allows users to customise their own communications solution based on their specific needs. Others include the ready integration of the NS1000 with other Panasonic PBX and UC products, and the high levels of scalability it offers.
In this review, we will look at how good a job the KX-NS1000 does in meeting the real communications needs of businesses, how flexible it actually is, and whether it is as simple and cost effective to deploy as the manufacturer claims.
Before we start, our usual reminder that UC Today is not involved in the promotion, endorsement or marketing of any telecommunications brands or products. We are here to provide an independent service to our readership, bringing them the latest news, insights and opinions about the UC industry.
What Can It Do?
The first thing that strikes you about the KX-NS1000 is the range and flexibility of its functions and deployment options. As a PBX server, it supports IP and SIP protocols, making it highly scalable with easy, cost effective telephone deployment whether you are operating a single site or many. It can be readily integrated into existing systems and offers a wide range of innovative capacity expansion options.
High definition audio support for voice communications is backed by a wide range of UC features accessible via a desktop GUI platform.
A single standalone server has overall capacity for 640 IP or SIP phone extensions and 256 trunks. However, this can be increased via one of several expansion options.
One-Look Networking is a system where a single KX-NS1000 unit can operate an expanded network across up to 16 sites, using smaller ‘slave’ servers as proxies. This increases user capacity to 1000 and the maximum number of IP trunks to 600. The system is controlled by a web based maintenance console, allowing for simple centralised administration of the whole network. If secure connections are required, the NS1000 comes with a built-in router for establishing a VPN network.
As well as IP and SIP, the NS1000 also supports legacy TDM connections. Through CSIG networking, this can be used to link the NS1000 with existing servers and increase overall user capacity to 8000. It also allows for easy migration from legacy analogue and digital telephone systems to VoIP. Users can run hybrid networks and upgrade to IP or SIP phones as and when their budget allows.
In terms of endpoints, the NS1000 can run a range of Panasonic IP telephone models, including the KX-NT500 and KX-UT series. There is also capacity for 64 DECT cell stations, doubled with One-Look Networking.
As well as premises based endpoints, the NS1000 provides various options for remote and mobile connections. The inbuilt Media Relay Gateway allows IP phones to be configured as part of the network via an IP connection alone, without the need for multisite networking. This is ideal for connecting home office workers or field representatives to the network simply and cheaply.
Mobile phones can also be integrated with the network, allowing users to receive calls to their office number on their mobile, and dial out from a softphone app. This is enabled by Communication Assistant (CA), the UC software platform bundled in with the NS1000. Available as a desktop, Android or iOS app, CA provides remote access to the network on any device, such as a home PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The CA platform can connect directly with the NS1000 server or operate via a web connection. When run from the server, it can provide access to UC functions for up to 1000 users. UC features are licensed in bundles, allowing businesses to customise what they access according to need. Key features include softphone based voice and video calls, presence and availability, call management and IM. It also integrates with Microsoft Exchange, synchronising availability on the CA client with Calendar schedules.
Aside from the CA platform, the NS1000 also supports Panasonic’s Unified Messaging system, which integrates voicemail, fax and email. The standard voice mailbox is two channels with two hours recording time available, but this can be expanded up to 24 channels and 1000 hours recording time. Unified Messaging allows voice and fax messages to be received as email attachments, through an inbuilt IMAP4 server or through CA, meaning you can pick up voicemail remotely on mobiles and other devices. The IMAP4 server also supports integration with email clients such as Microsoft Outlook.
What do we like?
The One-Look Networking option lifts the KX-NS1000 above the pack of standard IP-PBX solutions for the midmarket and foreshadows many of the flexible multisite innovations Panasonic introduced with the KX-NSX series. It offers a cost effective means of integrating communications across branches, straightforward centralised management, and fantastic scalability to build on the capabilities of a standalone NS1000 unit.
Moreover, One-Look Networking includes some clever backup and failover protocols. If one server in the network fails, even if it is the main NS1000 unit, other units can switch over to run independently and maintain core communications.
Who is it for?
The KX-NS1000 is a great IP PBX solution for the growing midmarket business. With legacy support for PSTN telephone systems, it is a great first step for organisations looking to upgrade to VoIP and gain all of the UC advantages of SIP technology, without having to overhaul an entire existing system at once.
For businesses looking to open new branches or extend options for flexible and remote working, the NS1000 offers a great range of flexible, cost effective and easy to configure options for networking across multiple sites. Added to all of that, the system is readily scalable, and with a 1000 user capacity, it is capable of matching the growth ambitions of most midmarket companies.
What is it compatible with?
The Communication Assistant application suite can be integrated with Microsoft Exchange to synchronise availability and presence in the UC client with Microsoft Calendar. The Unified Messaging system includes an inbuilt IMAP4 server, so will integrate with any IMAP4 email platform, such as Microsoft Outlook.
Where to buy and for how much?
The RRP for the main NS1000 server unit is listed as £660.00. However, the KX-NS1000 is a modular communications system, so you pay extra for user licenses and features. For example, Panasonic lists the guide price for a main unit plus 30 users and 2 licences each for Unified Messaging and mobile extensions at £1900. The same with 100 user capacity is £4810.
Review Sponsored by UK Distributor
Panasonic’s UK Distributor for Panasonic KX-NS1000
UC Today Opinion
There is a lot about the KX-NS1000 to love, and as a unit which in many ways bridges the gap between ‘traditional’ IP PBX and ‘next generation’ products designed to take on cloud-based VoIP services at their own game, it enjoys many of the best features of both.
What really stands out about the NS1000 is flexibility. Single site or multiple branches, standalone or networked, legacy support or full SIP trunks, on premises and mobile, it can support them all. The price point for the server itself makes it theoretically accessible to the SME market, although the licensing system for users and features pushes TCO up considerably.
But for an ambitious midmarket business with plans to modernise its communications infrastructure and open up new branches, it offers excellent value, again with that flexibility and ready scalability to pay for exactly the level of service you need as your business grows.
Do you use the Panasonic KX-NX1000 business communications server at your company? What do you make of it, do you agree with our views on the flexibility it offers? Or if you are a reseller, what feedback do you get from customers, and what range of customers does it appeal to? We’d love to hear your opinions, so please feel free to add them to the comments section below, and remember to share this article on social media if you have friends and colleagues who might be interested too.