Hybrid voice solutions

Use legacy phone and computer equipment to start up VoIP.

Hybrid voice solutions
Tom Alexander

In a perfect world, you could implement the latest, greatest VoIP technology without regard to your existing equipment. Unfortunately, that's rarely possible for a number of different reasons. However, many major vendors are creating solutions that allow you to leverage the legacy equipment instead of fighting it.

One of the best examples of this trend is combining the old and new into hybrid systems. These systems typically have a limited amount of traditional, modular, telephony hardware, combined with an Intel-based server running some variant of Windows NT or NT Embedded. All this is packed into a PC-sized, rack-mounted chassis.

If you're looking for a telephony system for a new office, you can probably do better elsewhere. But if you want all the advantages of IP Telephony and VoIP, but don't want the expense of replacing your existing phones or wiring, these solutions can offer a couple of surprising benefits.

The first is that they're more reliable than you may think. Only peripheral systems like TAPI and VRU and VM run on the PC side, so if Windows coughs up a lung, your basic telephone service won't be interrupted. The second is that they typically include all the bells and whistles, such as unified messaging, QoS features and support for lots of CODECs, but the device administration is remarkably similar to the legacy phone systems. This means that your learning curve can be reasonably short.

For some examples of these hybrid solutions, check out:

Nortel's Business Communications Manager

Praxon's PDX

AltiGen's AltiServ

Cisco's Integrated Communication System


Thomas Alexander Lancaster IV is a consultant and author with over ten years experience in the networking industry, focused on Internet infrastructure.

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Related Book

Voice over IP Fundamentals
Author : Jonathan Davidson and James Peters
Publisher : Cisco Press
Published : Mar 2000
Summary :
Voice over IP Fundamentals explains the basic concepts of VoIP technology. It is important to begin with a base understanding of how the current telephony system works today (PSTN). The book will attempt to explain in detail how the modern telephone system works. Then the book will discusses technical details on each component of a Voice over IP system, and how they all work together to create integrated voice/data networks.


This was first published in June 2001
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