Webex isn’t working…what now?

Spencer Adams
3 min readMar 20, 2020


Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash
Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

If you haven’t had a chance to view the Otter cam @ the [Monterray Bay Aquarium](https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams), do it now, by far my favorite live feed. There are so many great live feeds across the world
• [NASA International Space Station](http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-iss-stream)
• [Virtual Tours/Activities](https://virtualschoolactivities.com/)
• [LiveStream](https://livestream.com/watch)
• [YouTube Live](https://www.youtube.com/live)
• [Forbes List](https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2020/03/16/in-coronavirus-quarantine-you-can-virtually-tour-these-museums-from-home/#231f1c207a3a)

It is amazing to see Moore’s Law in action, as technology continues to improve at an exponential pace. A common theme for each of the live feeds is the networking and computing power required to support such a seemingly simple vessel of communication. Fortunately, I live in suburbia of America and have fiber running to my residence, but I am still amazed at the amazing power of the internet. At the same time…the internet doesn’t always function as we’d like. Just the other day, I was working on a new project with a few co-workers and discovered that Cisco Webex was having a bit of trouble under the increased load. We had to fall back to a more reliable solution, a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system. Amazingly, I had this old school dial-in from 8 years ago…and sure enough, it still functioned as best it did back then.

After that experience, I thought about all the other solutions for communication (as backup options) and figured I’d walk through a quick FreePBX setup on IBM Cloud leveraging Twilio’s free trial account for Elastic SIP Trunk. Since I am setting this up after my kids have gone to bed, the setup shouldn’t take more than 2–3 glasses of wine. And…should be easy enough to walk-thru under that same alcohol-induced coma. These were my requirements.

Therefore, I went to work ordering things quickly…

Originally was going to grab the free IKS node and leverage [DockerHub](https://hub.docker.com/r/tiredofit/freepbx/dockerfile), but quickly realized creating the Manifest and configuring the egress was going to be past the 3 drink max requirement. For others, maybe not. But for me, yes. Therefore, I went back to my requirements and just figured I’d start with Github and CentOS. With a quick Google search I found what I was looking for, a [PBX deployment on top of CentOS Server](https://github.com/cameronbackus/doPBX). That is simple. You could also simply grab the ISO and load up on bare metal via IPMI, but the VSI seemed easier. If this were for production, I would advise Bare Metal.

Ordered VSI quickly with SLCLI script:

slcli vs create — hostname=ibmpbx — domain=sa.test.local -f B1_1X2X25 -o CENTOS_LATEST_64 — datacenter=dal12 — billing=hourly` 

Then went over to Twilio and created a [free account](https://www.twilio.com/try-twilio). Then did another quick Google search for FreePBX Setup with Twilio, and found [this guide](https://twilio-cms-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/TwilioElasticSIPTrunking-AsteriskPBX-Configuration-Guide-Version2-1-FINAL-09012018.pdf).

By now, I am one glass of wine in and just getting started. Head over to Twilio and configure the trunks Origination and Termination, while the VSI instantiates. Twilio makes my life easy and I simply follow the guide. When complete on Twilio’s end, I head over to SSH into the VSI and install Astericks and FreePBX, cause I like a GUI…then let the scripts run, this takes a while, glass two completes. Once SSH shows complete, I hit up the Public IP and login as Administrator for my FreePBX system. I then did another quick Google for FreePBX to Twilio setup and discover another [guide](https://www.nicolasmeloni.com/blog/2017/06/18/set-sip-trunk-freepbx-twilio/). It’s great to know I am not the first to do this…

After following both guides, I have Astericks 13 (outdated, I know), FreePBX and Twilio setup with a Conference line for my backup. Glass 3 complete.

If I continue to run this server, I estimate it’ll be about $20/month and another $15/month for Twilio. A total of $35 for my own personal system that I can configure as I see fit. There is an abundance of other resources available, which I will list below, but nothing that allows me to customize the conference call to fit me like this setup would.

Other VoIP communication vehicles:
• Free Conference Bridge — https://www.freeconferencecalling.com/phone-conference.html
• Free Trial 90 days — https://www.webex.com/go-covid19.html
• Free Trial no limit — https://zoom.us/docs/en-us/covid19.html

Best of luck during these trying time and look forward to hearing about your plans during the Shelter in place movement.





Spencer Adams

Puppet string master, member of the cloud counsel. Protector of the CSM relm, advocate of client peasantry