The experts in SIP trunking and Unified Communications, Ingate Systems has been a showstopper at TMC’s ITEXPO conferences over the years, and this year’s ITEXPO West 2011 show in Austin, Texas, will be no different.
Recently named as one of the Top 20 Innovators of All Time, Ingate Systems is the pioneer behind the world’s first SIP-capable firewalls and SIParators, the products that enable unified communications to occur over the Internet. Not only has Ingate Systems partnered with TMC to host a new ITEXPO West seminar series focusing on how unified communications is transforming the 21st century, but it will also take to the exhibit floor in an effort to venture into the Austin market.
TMC’s CEO Rich Tehrani recently sat down with Steven Johnson, president of Ingate Systems, to discuss how today’s trends will affect the SIP and UC market and what to expect from the data communications products company at the forthcoming event.
The interview follows below.
RT: How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?
SJ: The shaky economy continues to underscore the value of adopting SIP communications. At Ingate, we are seeing a spike in demand for SIP trunks, which offer a way to implement enterprise SIP (and ultimately UC) at an exceptional value.
Unified Communications adoption is also on the rise. I think while cost has been a driver of SIP implementations, businesses and carriers alike are taking notice of how significantly UC can impact productivity and help on the competitiveness front. Video is leading the way, with many businesses looking to deploy video chat. Products such as the iPhone have really popularized video chat, and now enterprises are hoping to adopt it as well – but in a secure manner.
Another trend is small business adoption of SIP trunks and UC. SMBs were initially the first adopters of SIP trunking because the opportunities to reduce communications costs are so dramatic. Recently, larger enterprises have been implementing SIP trunking and now UC. Today small businesses are increasingly adopting SIP trunks.
RT: What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?
SJ: The use of SIP for unified communications is definitely knocking at the door. Until now, SIP has primarily been deployed for voice only (SIP trunking). But SIP is not just for voice. Video, collaboration, file sharing, and a host of other applications can all be delivered using SIP as the signaling protocol. And with that comes a whole new way of conducting business. What it is going to take is some motivation by the service providers to offer networks that truly utilize SIP in the way that it was intended, with no boundaries and no impediments to delivering these applications across networks. It is the wave of the future and it will be a bright future when it happens.
RT: How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?
SJ: Ingate has always been a virtual company with offices on two continents, production on a third and a focus on delivering products that help people communicate with whatever infrastructure they choose. So it has not changed our development cycle significantly. But we are seeing a growth in supporting customers who are using the cloud effectively, for example with Microsoft’s Office 365 offering. And there we see significant growth in interest, as well as with hosted PBX providers who offer a lower cost solution to telephony for smaller business who don’t want to deal with or own the PBX.
RT: What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?
SJ: The most common request we get from customers is, make my implementation simple. Ingate Enterprise Session Border Controllers (E-SBCs) have been designed to pave the way for a smooth, simplified deployment. They solve interoperability issues to allow the ITSP to connect to any IP-PBX. For carriers, they enable high-volume SIP trunk deployments. They also add enterprise-class security – a critical feature.
The second most common request has to do with cost. Ingate E-SBCs provide an astounding amount of functionality at an exceptional price point.
RT: How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?
SJ: We use social media to interact with our customers and vendors. We have not yet seen social media change our development practices or strategies, nor have they significantly impacted our service offerings. We do see social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter offering a way for people to stay connected with Ingate and others in the industry to learn more about SIP and our products, and TMC has helped us greatly in this regard in terms of reaching new and existing customers with information that is relevant and important to their decision-making.
RT: Will Google+ become bigger than Facebook and Twitter? Why or why not?
SJ: I won’t discount Google’s ability to eclipse others in the same industry. So I would say that if they are motivated in that direction, it will.
As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility? What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?
We’ve been enabling remote workers to access the full Unified Communications capabilities of their corporate IP-PBX for several years now. With a single Ingate E-SBC at the customer site, remote workers can use VoIP, videochat, IM etc. outside the Local Area Network (LAN). With our Remote SIP Connectivity software module setup is an absolute breeze. It is a very cost-effective solution.
Security is a roadblock for many businesses. With the Ingate E-SBC + Remote SIP Connectivity, the security of the network is maintained.
RT: How do you see the mobile operating system war (iPhone vs. Android vs. RIM vs. WM7) playing out?
SJ: From sheer numbers, it’s hard to see where anything can surpass the iPhone with its myriad of apps and its growing service provider base now with Sprint being added to AT&T and Verizon. On the other hand the Android is doing well, has a great reputation and now Google will own the handset manufacturer. So I think the war is between iPhone and Android, at least in the next couple of years.
RT: What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?
SJ: Austin is a new market for ITEXPO, so I’m eager to talk with attendees about where they see Unified Communications and SIP trunking fitting into their businesses.
Also, this season Ingate is presenting a completely new seminar series, “Unified Communications: SIP Trunking, Video, Collaboration and More.” Free to ITEXPO attendees, the seminars will feature educational sessions from some of the biggest leaders in our field including ShoreTel, Broadvox, Media5 and Bandwidth.com, as well as visionaries from Texas A&M University, the Open Visual Communications Consortium, The SIP Forum, VOIPSA and the SIP Center. More information can be found here: http://www.ingate.com/Unified%20Communication_Austin_2011.php
RT: What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend? We’re featuring some important sessions this season, covering critical issues such as fax-over-IP, video calling, HD video and voice, mobility/connecting remote workers, hosted SIP trunking and more.
One of the most innovative seminars will be a session where Karl Stahl, our chairman, and Dr. Walt Magnusson of Texas A&M University will present a new way of looking at the service provider delivery of SIP services, using an unrestricted backbone to eliminate issues with FAX, video and other things, and using the Enterprise Session Border Controller as a management device to route, manage and potentially bill for these services. It is a truly innovative approach to enabling Unified Communications and it promises to be a very engaging presentation. Join us for it on Sept. 13, at 10 a.m. in room 9C of the Austin Convention Center.
Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.Edited by Jamie Epstein