VoIP enable your telephony
One of the reasons VoIP has been slowly gaining traction is that large enterprises have quite a lot of legacy equipment, and migrating to VoIP from the circuit-switched networks of yore is no easy feat. These environments are typically complicated and the stakes are high because so many mission-critical systems rely on telephony.
For logistical and financial reasons, most organizations choose to migrate between the two technologies rather than attempting a complete upgrade in a short period of time. One of the most difficult tasks that these migrations require is VoIP enabling the enterprise telephony server (also known as a PBX). Basically, this creates the gateway that bridges your old and new systems so that people with classic handsets can talk to other people who are using the microphone and speakers in their PC. It is difficult to implement for several reasons. Directly connecting a traditional PBX to a packet network creates a host of problems, from security to interoperability to simple performance issues. Also, the cost of putting VoIP cards and software upgrades into many PBXs has historically ranged from ridiculous to ludicrous.
Fortunately, several companies have begun to offer products that make this challenge less daunting. These products assume the gateway responsibilities from the PBX by connecting to both the circuit-switched and packet-switched networks.
There are several advantages to having a dedicated gateway that is removed from the PBX. One of the advantages is that routine maintenance, such as software upgrades and security patches, require minimal outages. It is easy to build redundant paths into these systems, so that you can switch service to a backup unit rather than experience a disruption. Another advantage is the H.323 signaling and CODEC processing is taken off the PBX and put on a box designed to handle it.
Perhaps the most important reason to consider one of these gateways is cost. With products such as Intel's recently announced PBX Digital Gateway costing less than $3000 per gateway, there's a chance VoIP projects might come in under budget, too.
For more info on Intel's new gateway, visit http://www.intel.com/network/csp/products/7135web.htm
Thomas Alexander Lancaster IV is a consultant and author with over ten years experience in the networking industry, focused on Internet infrastructure.