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VoIP vendors focused on solving customer's networking issues.

VoIP vendors are focused on alleviating the issues of their consumers who need to integrate IP telephony systems with legacy systems.

What challenges do VoIP vendors' customers face in their communication departments that the vendors are specifically focused on alleviating?
For the most part this refers to the IT departments and in larger businesses the CIO/CTO office. Perhaps the biggest challenge is whether the company's networking culture is more data-centric or voice-centric. In conventional environments, these are separate operations with their own staffing, budgets and priorities. Where the voice network team carries more weight there will be more resistance to IP telephony since it threatens to displace them, which is true. In their view, VoIP is not a valid substitute for TDM and they will not advocate a convergence strategy that will ultimately shift voice over to the data network. Conversely, where the data network team is stronger, the rationale for network convergence and VoIP is far more intuitive, and the path to IP telephony will unfold more easily and quickly.

On a more practical level there are many issues around integrating IP telephony systems with legacy systems, especially...

where there are different and/or multiple vendors involved. Legacy systems -- whether PBX or KTS -- are closed, proprietary and inflexible, making it hard to bring VoIP along. IP telephony is by nature the opposite -- open, standards-based and flexible, and unless the business is making a wholesale changeover, the initial transition will be somewhat disruptive, which for some is not worth the bother.

Another key challenge is trust. VoIP is still evolving, and even the most tech-savvy business will have trust issues around this. At the most basic level is quality. To adopt VoIP there must be trust that the quality and reliability will be on par with TDM, which we all know is nearly flawless. Telephony is mission-critical, and businesses cannot afford best-efforts here, and nor will they accept voice having to compete with data applications on the same network, and becoming a secondary priority from time to time.

Trust extends to many other aspects of communications and networking, including security, scalability and flexibility. There is a great deal to explore here -- should you have any additional questions, send me an email and I will be happy to expound upon anything I have discussed.

This was last published in April 2008

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