As much as the media gets caught up in any Apple product launch these days, the communications industry focuses much more heavily – and rightfully – on Microsoft. Indeed, reflecting back on the launches of Microsoft OCS back in 2007 and Lync just a few months ago, it’s hard to come up with many launches that equal Microsoft’s major announcement in terms of media hype.
That’s not a bad thing, though, considering the opportunities Microsoft provides other vendors to enhance their own product lines. Notably, Microsoft’s Lync Server announcement – a significant over its OCS platform from three years ago – ties into one of biggest trends in business communications today, the continued growth of the SIP Trunking market. By basing its architecture on SIP, Microsoft is both acknowledging and driving SIP as the protocol that will drive the next generation of unified communications.
I spoke to Matt Vlasach of Unwired Revolution, who agrees, and further points out that this only increases the importance of SIP Trunking in ensuring scalability and functionality of unified communications systems and helping bridge the gap between TDM and IP-based communications.
Vlasach will be furthering that point during two sessions at the SIP Trunk-Unified Communications Summit, sponsored by Ingate Systems and collocated with ITEXPO East in Miami, February 1-4, 2011.
Among the reasons this event is a must-attend for businesses, integrators, and consultants alike, is that SIP Trunking is still a relatively new technology and, despite its growing adoption, many businesses and integrators are still hesitant because they are unsure as to how to ensure QoS and interoperability with PBXs and other network elements.
Many providers claim SIP Trunking and interoperability are easy – and in some cases, they are. But, according to Vlasach, interop also represents the greatest roadblock for customers going forward. Because much of the market is still unsure as to how exactly to deploy SIP trunks effectively, word spreads and prospects are hear warning signs – from blogs, social media posts, and from analysts and industry peers. This is leading to increased due diligence, with companies looking at experts in interop and events like the SIP Trunk-Unified Communications Summit, seeking to fully understand the complexities of a SIP Trunking project.
Vlasach notes that much of his work involves helping customers salvage their unsuccessful SIP Trunking deployments, simply because they didn’t have all the information.
“There are so many implications that carriers and PBX manufacturers aren’t telling you,” he says. “Customers need to understand these things when they are looking at SIP projects if they want to deploy successfully.”
Fortunately, there are some PBX vendors that have started to strongly push the idea of en enterprise session border controller (E-SBC), which not only helps with interoperability between SIP trunks and PBXs, but also provides a layer of security.
“Security conscious enterprises are starting to look closely at E-SBCs for their security features and firewall technologies, in addition to helping overcome normalization and interop issues,” Vlasach adds.
But there’s only so far PBX vendors can take the initiative, especially when carriers typically suggest deploying SIP trunks is a simple process, overlooking the fact that, while their part may be easy, they leave the enterprise with an often daunting task of ensuring their communications systems function as expected.
This is not a new challenge. As with any technology deployment, the only way to know for sure what is needed to ensure successful SIP Trunking deployments is to become educated. Vlasach suggests the best place to get a wealth of information about SIP Trunking, security, and unified communications is the SIP Trunk-Unified Communications Summit, where a number of experts, including analysts, carriers, and PBX vendors, provide an all-encompassing complete educational program over the course of the three-day experience.
In fact, Ingate has added a fourth day – at the very beginning of the event, on Tuesday, February 1, focusing on the service provider community. The service provider workshop is designed to provide a similar educational experience for providers so they can not only increase the efficiency of their deployments, but are better equipped to educate their own customers in the process.
In Los Angeles, at Ingate’s seminar at ITEXPO West this past October, Vlasach discussed an implementation in which Unwired Revolution designed a system that included a data center component, a ShoreTel communications system, and Microsoft OCS for integrated IM and Web conferencing, demonstrating how an E-SBC pulls the complete solution together and ensures interoperability between the trunks and communications components. Having been impressed with the results from that presentation, and the overall quality of the event, Vlasach has decided to take a similar approach in Miami, extending it to include opportunities presented by Microsoft Lync.
Whether you are an enterprise/SMB, service provider, or technology vendor, this conference is a can’t miss event: “Anyone who is involved with or is considering a project with SIP shouldn’t maybe go, they must go,” says Vlasach. “This is a call to get people informed about SIP Trunking technologies, and it’s worth the time to attend.”