Whether you realize it or not, your company needs Session Initiation Protocol. As legacy telephony networks wind down and cloud-based voice services continue to grow, SIP services are necessary to support the transition to the cloud and ensure reliable communications infrastructure.
SIP is the protocol used to initiate, maintain, modify and terminate real-time communications sessions, like voice and video, over IP networks.
“Whether you are doing it yourself or being forced to by a provider, [SIP is] somewhat inevitable for businesses,” said IHS Markit analyst Diane Myers.
More than 50% of organizations are using SIP trunks today, Myers said. SIP trunking connects a PBX to the internet to facilitate calls. According to an IDC survey of midmarket and large enterprises, the benefits of SIP trunking include improved reliability, easier management, flexibility and speed of deployment.
Making the move to SIP
Vendors are partly driving the transition to SIP as they shut down their legacy time-division multiplexing (TDM) networks, while end-user organizations are turning to SIP services to support a hybrid cloud model for communications.
SIP enables organizations to control the connections between on-premises and cloud-based systems and services, such as managing routing, sessions and dial plans, she said.
“Businesses are not homogenous, there is no single solution through the business,” Myers said in a recent webinar. Most businesses have an average of three to five conferencing services, five to six PBXs, as well as moving to the cloud, she said.
SIP trunking becomes the glue that ties all these systems and services together, she said. It ensures all pieces of the communications puzzle are connected, regardless if they’re on premises or in the cloud.
Most organizations also use multiple providers for their communications needs, and providers have their own translations of SIP. Adopting SIP trunking ensures different flavors of SIP can communicate with each other for reliable performance, Myers said.
Deploy SIP based on business size and need
How an organization deploys SIP services depends on its size, infrastructure and equipment needs.
Organizations with legacy TDM systems and users who are more comfortable with handsets should consider a TDM-VoIP gateway. The gateway would convert legacy infrastructure to be compatible with VoIP and SIP trunking, according to James McCall, senior product manager at GTT Communications.
“You wouldn’t need to replace your PBX, which can be expensive,” he said.
Large organizations with dispersed offices should take a centralized approach by installing SIP trunks in one or two central locations that would support telephony requirements across the entire company, he said.
Smaller organizations that may not want the upfront costs of new voice equipment should consider a cloud-based telephony system with monthly subscription costs, McCall said.
Not all organizations onboard with SIP services
Organizations not moving to SIP are doing so out of complacency, Myers said. The two main reasons why organizations are not adopting SIP are because they have an existing contract that’s not up for renewal or they’re satisfied with their existing services. But that’s no excuse, Myers said.
“There’s not that much room to be complacent in managing a voice network because we have a lot of enhanced capability,” she said. “It’s not just voice anymore, it’s myriad UC apps and pieces that come together.”
Organizations need to be proactive in migrating to SIP rather than waiting to be forced by their provider, she said.