3CX PBX Express: 1-year free PBX in Google Cloud

Today we’ll talk about how to create a free 3CX cloud-based PBX for 8 simultaneous calls in the Google cloud in 15 minutes. However, if earlier the placement in the cloud was paid, now it is now possible to use the Google infrastructure for free for 12 months!

All we need is a Google account and a payment card. I note right away that the card is only needed to confirm that you are not a robot. After completing 12 months, funds will also not be debited from it until your decision.

Creating a Google Cloud Platform Project

Log into the Google Cloud Platform console with your Google credentials and accept the terms of service. Then enter your personal information and payment card details.

After that, the trial period will be activated.

Next, you will be asked to create a new project or use an existing one. Pay attention to its name.

After creating the project, go to the Compute Engine - VM Instances section. Virtual machines of different capacities are created here. Do not create an instance , just look at the options offered. In particular, pay attention to the power and cost of virtual machines. For a small PBX with 8 calls, the “small machine" is quite suitable. Its cost depends on the placement.

This completes the preparation of the Google Cloud Console. We will continue to create PBXs in the PBX Express service.   

PBX activation in PBX Express service

Go to the 3CX PBX Express service interface , specify the name of the 3CX server to be created and the domain zone in which it will be located.

Enter the credentials of the PBX administrator. All system notifications will be sent to the administrator’s e-mail.

Select the length of the internal (extension) user number. Be careful - you cannot change it in the future without reinstalling the system! For a small company, a length of no more than 2-3 digits is recommended.

Indicate the location, time zone, and language of the PBX system voice messages. Information about the country and time zone is used, among other things, for added security of the system and automatic configuration of hardware IP phones.

Now add PBX users. I created one user with the number 200, however you can specify all the users in your organization.

In the next step, indicate that you are using your own Google account.

An authorization window will appear in which select the account under which the Google Cloud Platform project was created.

After that, the wizard’s interface will display the selection of the previously created Google Cloud Platform project, location and capacity of the PBX instance. I chose a small virtual machine, which is quite enough for a load of 8 simultaneous calls.  

On the final one, indicate the registration data for which the license will be generated. Provide real information about you and the organization, as it is then verified by 3CX.If a 3CX employee doubts the credibility of this information, your PBX will lose the ability to automatically update.

By clicking the Finish button, you will receive a verification code for the specified e-mail, which you must insert in the window that appears. This code links the created 3CX PBX Express configuration with the Google Cloud Platform project.

The telephone exchange will be completely ready in about 10 minutes. You will see this both in the wizard interface and in the received e-mail with connection parameters. Each added user will also receive an e-mail with a file of automatic configuration of 3CX software clients for Windows, Mac, Android and iPhone, as well as an access URL to the web client.

An automatically created instance of the virtual machine appears in the Google Cloud Platform interface.

If you are a 3CX partner, you can similarly create other instances of a free PBX for your customers. However, there are some limitations, which we will discuss below.

Free System Limitations

In conclusion, of course, it is worth mentioning the limitations of the free PBX created in the PBX Express service.

The free PBX is called PBX Edition and has a slightly stripped-down feature set specified here . After a year of use, you will be asked to renew your subscription to updates or upgrade to a commercial version of the system.

A free Google Cloud Platform account (and virtual machine instance) can have only one static IP address. On the other hand, such an account uses up to 8 so-called. “Ephemeral” (dynamic) public IP addresses. Therefore, if you plan to place several instances of 3CX PBX in your account, use “ephemeral” IP addresses.

I also recommend paying attention toGoogle’s “always free” offers . In particular, this program offers unlimited free use of a small capacity system:

  • 1 instance of f1-micro located in the USA (except for Northern Virginia)
  • 30 GB disk and 5 GB snapshot
  • 1 GB of outgoing traffic per month to all regions (except China and Australia)

This configuration is quite suitable for the needs of a small office.

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