by May 4, 2006 0 comments



One of the hottest infrastructure topics today is IP
telephony or VoIP. Technically, VoIP is about routing voice over packet switched
data networks instead of the traditional circuit switched voice-only networks.
And the common idea is about routing telephony calls on the cheap, over the
Internet. But there is more to VoIP than just a different type of switching or
cheaper calls.

By treating voice like you treat data, you get all the
advantages that you have with data on to voice. For example, you are not bound
to any single computer to access your email, right? You can access it from any
where in the world, as long as you are connected to the Internet. Similarly,
with VoIP, you are no longer tied down to a specific location. Incoming calls
are automatically routed to your phone, wherever it is on the network.

Krishna Kumar, Editor

VoIP has been around for a long time, but what has held up
its wide spread acceptance is the quality of service and the other usual culprit
– costs. Legal issues, primarily arising out of revenue concerns of telephony
service providers have also helped delay wide spread usage. No wonder then that
enterprise use of VoIP lagged behind personal use that proliferated with
broadband and applications like Skype.

Better equipment, more bandwidth and better bandwidth
management has made quality a non-issue for the enterprise, and choice will
hopefully make cost also not that much of an issue.

IP telephones on an enterprise network are very much like
PCs connected on the same network and can have features similar to PCs.
Facilities like directories and profiles can be centrally made available from
the IT network to the telephones. And as the WAN extends your network across
geographies, your internal telephone network can also be a single one, spanning
across offices.

Considering that IP telephones are actually compute
clients, it is not surprising that many of them are WiFi enabled making network
wide mobility easier. And there are atleast a couple of models in the works that
combine WiFi and GSM capabilities. With these models, mobility would take on a
completely new dimension with seamless mobility across homes and offices.

An interesting aside to this whole discussion is the role
of the IT department vis-à-vis that of the admin or facilities management
setup. Increasingly the two are overlapping and one is not able to see a clear
pattern emerge on whose responsibilities will end where.

Telephony is a subject under facilities management, but
network management is an IT responsibility. So who will manage the IP telephony
system? Increasingly, large enterprises are taking the same decision on both by
outsourcing the running of both facilities and IT services.

Almost five years back, writing in PCQuest about the future
of telephony, I had mentioned that distance would not remain as a key billing
factor for telephony. I had then called it the Death of Distance.

In the consumer space, the death of distance has happened
on a national scale with the advent of the Bharat One plan. In the

Enterprise


space, the death of distance is happening now, enabling users to roam across
offices using the same telephone number. And that is happening because of VoIP.

 

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