NBX Hardware evaluation

NBX Hardware evaluation

We purchased an NBX 100, ISDN S/T card, 4 phones and one operator console for AU$14,000. After a few issues getting it set up and a problem during an upgrade and finding out there was almost no tech support without an over priced service contract even on bard new gear, I was told to investigate the unit and find out if we got our monies worth. At this point I think the answer is no.

Major issues:

Hard drive issues

You can't replace the hard drisk and reload the os from the media you get with the unit. This makes a mechanicl device with a 5yr life span a critical part of the system. You can make a backup of the disk using 'dd' under linux but the backup may not function without some effort. Some details of a non working attempt are here. Dont try this on a system you have to count on. If you have a power failure while the system is doing some types of dtabase updates, you can not recover the system without replaceing the disk as far as I can tell.

The systems watchdog timer doesn't work proerply

Find an empty bit of memory and build a program that is
fa			cli
eb fe	l1:	jump l1
Use mySymAdd to create a link to it and call it. Your system goes to sleep and won't wake up ever. This indicates that the watchdog timer will not reset the system correctly. This is typical of systems designed by amatures or engineering student projects.

Hard Disk Mirroring

The Hard disk is an essential part of the system and hard drives fail. They tend to have short lives when they are power cycled or in dirty or hot enviroments. As of version 3_0_11, all NBX 100 systems have all the software needed to mirror disks, it simply isn't turned on. The super stacker 3 version allow this to be turned on with a license key. The hardware and software support a more reliable system but its not on for marketing reasons. This is an ethical position for the enginners that they should not be in. The legal issues are quite clear as well. If a hard drive fails and an emergency call can't be made, 3com is liable.

Five 9's

The system should be able to meet 99.999% uptime to be useds as a phone system. Early NBX Corp litature claimed this figure. Our system is less than 88.888% giving it a 0 nines reliability over the last month.


The main user id is "administrator" and is not changable. It is quite easy to build a password scaner to try all dictionary words in about 20 minutes. Most password scanners will try simple substitutions like l->1 as well as common car tag and many guessable passwords. This is a major security hole and should be addressed. Also all passwords to the systme are sent in clear text so do not the same password on this as other systems. Many people will tend to set their voice mail password to the same as their ATM pin number. The sysmte also requires passwords at unneeded times such as logging into a hunt group. This should be configureable.

Minor issues:

Voice Mail

There is no way to find out how many messages each user has. With the license limited space, its hard to tell how much is used. The vxWorks command vmStats will give a total amount used but you have to dig through the file system to find out who is hogging all the voice mail space. I think that the system doesn't show this because 3com make lots of money selling their voice mail upgrades and they are generly aren't used. Our company of about 30 so far has not exceeded 1% of the 30 minite lices even though we bought the 4 hr upgrade. Keep in mind that it takes about an hour to deal with 15 minutes of average voice mail messages.