VoIP 101: An Enterprise Guide to VoIP and IP Telephony
- 20 November, 2008 15:17
- What does VoIP mean and what does it do?
- How does VoIP work?
- How does IP telephony differ from traditional telephony?
- What are the advantages of VoIP?
- What are the disadvantages of VoIP?
- What does the IP telephony market look like?
- Do Skype and Vonage have anything to do with VoIP?
- What about security issues?
- How are CIOs using VoIP right now?
What does the IP telephony market look like?
The IP telephony market is poised for a lot of growth. Unfortunately, it's been stagnant that way for the last couple of years now. There are many predictable issues that need to be ironed out before VoIP does, indeed, take off. The most critical one is all about perception: With VoIP, there still seems to be a steady undercurrent of scepticism — especially from businesses — that IP telephony does work well and that the quality is equal to what's offered from traditional carrier services. VoIP vendors have to get CIOs to buy into VoIP as a reliable, cost-effective and secure alternative, and dispel the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) factor. “Enterprises are being barraged by conflicting messages about the cost-effectiveness of adopting VoIP. These unclear messages surrounding sizable capital expenditures have made enterprises hesitant to deploy VoIP on a wide scale,” according to market research firm Current Analysis. Current Analysis predicts that the following near- and long-term market drivers will have a crucial effect on VoIP's adoption in enterprises:
- Evolving standards: Session Initiation Protocol will continue to be developed by standards bodies, heavily marketed by companies supporting them and integrated into vendors' VoIP equipment as it displaces the H.323 standard. For mass appeal, support for as many protocols as possible remains necessary.
- New applications: Enterprises are beginning to deploy (or plan the deployment of) a new breed of communications applications that takes advantage of packet-based communications. These include multimedia conferencing, video, presence management, IP-enabled call centres, and e-commerce applications such as “click to talk” customer assistance.
- Reliability and security: Potential enterprise customers regularly voice concern for packet telephony's low levels of reliability and security when compared with traditional voice networking. Providing solutions that maximise the reliability of VoIP gateways is central to calming these anxieties. As such, improvements in both security and survivability have been the primary focus for many vendors.
The other significant factor for the VoIP market is how much more the carriers will enable VoIP services of their own. Carriers are making inroads into the market by offering hosted and managed VoIP services, especially to small and midsize businesses. “These new services offer enterprises a migration path from TDM to IP that enables them to maintain a hybrid environment for as long as necessary, provides operational expense savings, new features and flexible call management options,” according to Current Analysis research.
Do Skype and Vonage have anything to do with VoIP?
You've probably heard about Skype and Vonage. These two companies provide VoIP services for consumers, and they are now targeting the business market (small and midsize first) as well. With Skype software, there are many ways to make free calls, such as Skype user to Skype user calls, but there are charges for other types of calls. Vonage offers variously priced calling plans that allow you to make free calls. In both cases, check the companies' Web sites for more detailed information because not every call you make using their services will actually be free.
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