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September 11, 2008

SIPconnect 1.1: A Work in Progress


By Chris Gatch Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Cbeyond



A good sign that a technology standard is gaining strength is when it continuously changes and evolves to create new capabilities and resolve issues that come from real world experience. It follows that a measure of relevance for a standard is the number and quality of people who line up to help improve subsequent versions. That’s why I’m so excited to see work begin on SIPconnect 1.1. Gauging from the companies and people involved, it is evident that SIPconnect is important and the results of this new effort will have significant impact on the future of IP PBXs and SIP Trunking services.

 
SIPconnect 1.0 was developed in 2004 by a group of five companies that wanted a better way to facilitate SIP trunking between IP PBXs and service providers. This group pioneered the SIPconnect specification in 2005, which was moved into the SIP Forum in 2006 and after considerable revision ratified an official SIPconnect 1.0 Technical Recommendation in 2007.
 
The charge for SIPconnect 1.1 is being led by a new editor, Spencer Dawkins, from Huawei Technologies. This fact alone is significant. Spencer is an industry luminary who has authored numerous IETF standards surrounding SIP and he is highly regarded in the SIP community. He was the SIP Forum’s first choice, and his acceptance shows strength and importance for SIPconnect as an industry standard. 
 
Even beyond Spencer, the industry support for SIPconnect is impressive. As a first step in the SIPconnect 1.1 process, companies were invited to submit initial drafts and proposed contributions to the scope of work for the new standard. Avaya, Broadsoft, CableLabs, Cbeyond, Microsoft and Siemens all submitted content. Furthermore, representatives from many other leading companies like Cisco and Nortel are active in the process. With leading companies contributing to the effort, the prospect of increased adoption looks great.
 
As with any group of leaders — be they in technology, business or academia — the ultimate development of SIPconnect 1.1 will face its own set of hurdles. You can compare it to Mad Max and the Thunderdome: many ideas enter, but only one standard leaves. Following much collaboration and compromise, the SIP Forum will have a ratified SIPconnect 1.1 recommendation by early next year.
 
SIPconnect 1.1 will feature a variety of enhancements, but a few items you can expect to be addressed are improved security practices, clarity around user identity, TCP SIP v. UVP SIP, and media standards. Video and other enhanced media types won’t be covered in this iteration but are in the SIP Forum’s plans for future recommendations.
 
2008 has been a banner year for SIPconnect and the SIP Forum. The technology has seen widespread adoption and the SIP Forum’s membership has doubled since 2007 with new members such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Cox. With SIPconnect 1.1 on deck, I expect this expansion to continue and SIPconnect to take a more pronounced role in both business and consumer VoIP. 
 
Contribution to a standard is an indication of success, but the ultimate judge is adoption. SIPconnect 1.1 is the next important step in making SIP trunking the default choice for connecting an IP PBX to service provider networks.
 
Learn more about Cbeyond at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Visit Cbeyond at booth #438 in the exhibit hall. Don’t wait. Register now!

Christopher C. Gatch, who heads up the engineering department and network technology research at Cbeyond, writes the SIPerspective column for TMCnet. To read more of Christopher´┐Żs articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke