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August 31, 2009

SIP PBXs to Make Some Legacy Features Obsolete: Mitel


By Michael Dinan SIP Trunking Report Editor



SIP-based PBXs may never offer all of the features of TDM PBXs, because the market has never required it, an official with a Canada-based communications solutions provider told TMCnet in an interview this week.
 
According to Laith Zalzalah – director of carrier and hosted solutions at Mitel, whose international headquarters are in Kanata, Ont. – the situation is akin to computers with word processing applications that made typewriters obsolete without fully replacing every single feature or capability of a typewriter.

 
“Instead, the business processes that previously assumed the use of a typewriter were replaced by business processes that took advantage of the enhanced functionality computers provided,” Zalzalah said during an interview, printed in full below.

“The same is likely going to be true of telephony. The possibility for seamless integration with video and other multi-media communication, instant messaging, and enterprise applications will create demand for features that are very different than those delivered in legacy telephony systems. Many of the features of legacy telephony systems will likely be made obsolete in the process, reducing the need for PBX vendors to achieve full TDM equivalency in SIP.”
 
Zalzalah – who is speaking this week during ITEXPO West 2009’s SIP Trunking Workshop, in a session titled “The Service Provider Case Study” – also discussed SIPconnect and the reasons for SIP’s rapid adoption.
 
Our exchange follows.
 
TMCnet: Certainly one area of SIP-based technology that’s widely discussed in the industry is the SIP Forum’s “SIPconnect” initiative, which promotes an industry-wide, standards-based approach to direct IP peering between SIP-enabled IP-PBXs and VoIP service provider networks. Give us your perspective on the issue. What does this effort mean for you?
 
Laith Zalzalah: A major challenge of multi-vendor SIP deployments or deployments with SIP trunking service providers is the need for interoperability testing. Because SIP standards are still evolving, and in many cases existing standards are vague or open to interpretation, one cannot guarantee successful deployments without first testing for SIP compatibility.

SIPConnect attempts to address this challenge by providing a common reference point for vendors to achieve compliance. While this is a valuable step forward, it doesn’t completely remove the need for vendor and service-provider specific interop testing,
 
TMCnet: Talk to us about what you’re seeing in the SIP market? From your perspective, what exactly is driving the take-rate in SIP?
 
LZ: The primary factors that appear to be driving the take-rate for SIP include:
  • Cost savings, particularly for SIP trunking versus legacy trunking
  • Vendor neutrality and the ability to mix-and-match components as needed, without being locked into a single vendor using a proprietary protocol
  • Ease of application integration; as more applications support SIP, this becomes the easiest way to achieve integration without requiring custom development or application support for proprietary APIs
 
 
TMCnet: What do you think will drive the adoption of SIP in the future? What kinds of things are people looking for?
 
LZ: Voice telephony and related functionality are essentially just services that can be delivered over an enterprise IP network. Customers are already starting to look at telephony in this way, and as this continues, SIP will be seen as a key enabler for full integration of telephony services with all business processes.
 
Integration with enterprise applications, unified communications, and multi-media communication are already starting to gain traction as part of everyday usage in the enterprise.
 
TMCnet: Following up on that, talk to us about how much of the feature set of a traditional PBX is now available on a SIP PBX?
 
LZ: Virtually all basic telephony features are now available in SIP – the ones that 90 percent of users will use 90 percent of the time. The lack of maturity in SIP standards is making complete support of legacy functionality in SIP problematic as vendors must either choose to use propriety extensions in SIP or wait until the standards evolve further to enable RFC-compliant implementations of some advanced telephony features.
 
TMCnet: What is the timetable, in your view, for having all of the features available on a TDM PBX on a SIP PBX?
 
LZ: This may never happen because it may not ever be required by the market. Computers with word processing applications made typewriters obsolete without fully replacing every single feature or capability of a typewriter. Instead, the business processes that previously assumed the use of a typewriter were replaced by business processes that took advantage of the enhanced functionality computers provided.

The same is likely going to be true of telephony. The possibility for seamless integration with video and other multi-media communication, instant messaging, and enterprise applications will create demand for features that are very different than those delivered in legacy telephony systems. Many of the features of legacy telephony systems will likely be made obsolete in the process, reducing the need for PBX vendors to achieve full TDM equivalency in SIP.
 
TMCnet: Talk to us about your involvement and interest in ITEXPO. What kind of information are you providing?
 
LZ: Mitel has been associated with ITEXPO for a number of years as an attendee, exhibitor and/or as a contributor. It is a forum to share and exchange information relating to unified communications.
 
Mitel will present our unique value proposition in the communications industry to the attendees of ITEXPO. Mitel NetSolutions integrates network services that are specifically engineered for Mitel’s unified communications’ solutions creating a seamless experience for the customer.
 
Mitel is the only major communications provider to deliver a complete, end-to-end, fully managed solution that encompasses communication software, productivity enhancing applications, managed services, and all of the associated network services from local dial tone to complex data networks and broadband internet access.
 
These solutions are available for businesses from three to 65,000 users and offer various levels of management. Mitel also offers these solutions by delivering them in technology leading methodologies such as centralization, virtualization and session initiated protocol while still continuing to deliver robust offerings utilizing traditional TDM and digital infrastructure so that the solutions we provide to our customers can evolve as their needs change over time so they do not have to worry about “end of life” or stranded investment.
 

Learn more about Mitel during the SIP Trunking Workshop at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Don’t wait. Register now.


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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan