January 18, 2011
The Era of Sub-Par Branch Office Communications is Ending
By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
In most large companies, branch offices act as the local face to customers—a vital role for any business. Yet you’d never know how vital considering the level of investment typically made in branch office telecommunications systems.
Back in the era of TDM-based private branch exchanges (PBXs), branch offices were even more neglected than they are today when it came to communications investments. It wasn’t unusual for a branch office to be equipped with a small PBX (News - Alert) or key-system lacking sophisticated features found in headquarters PBXs. Sometime branch offices had to rely solely on local PSTN lines.
Then, IP communications technology entered the scene, promising to bring reform to branch offices. Yet all too often, this potential was not realized.
“VoIP was just used to reduce inter-site communications costs, and to provide common IT wiring to desktops to reduce wiring costs,” Siemens (News - Alert) noted in a recently published white paper. “It did almost nothing to address distributed premise-based equipment or to provide integrated applications interworking, and still used proprietary hardware and software.”
True, data center-based communications enabled by VoIP did address some of the issues plaguing branch office communications systems, and simultaneously helped businesses save on capital investments and operating costs (often as much as 30 percent). But this brought another, less desirable result as well: simple gateways were often deployed because they offered easy replication, and this often ended up reducing branch office functionality even more.
Today, the era of branch offices languishing in obscurity appears to finally be ending. In its white paper, Siemens sees light at the end of the tunnel in the form of what it calls intelligent branch solutions, using communications-in-the-cloud applications.
Such intelligent branch solutions, which provide scalable and feature-rich communications capabilities, are beneficial in a variety of contexts, including cost-conscious businesses running multiple branch offices, cloud providers looking to offer differentiated services, and other service providers seeking more reliable solutions for their customers.
In its whitepaper, Siemens examines the recent history of branch office communications, from data center based applications through intelligent branch solutions and onward toward cloud services.
“Now in the days of mature data-center based communications and the move towards communications-in-the-cloud, there has been an equal revolution in the provisioning of sophisticated branch solutions, and we are seeing the era of Intelligent Branch Solutions for both Public and Private Cloud applications,” Siemens said in its white paper. “Users in branches need and deserve the best communications – now they can get them.”
Read the full white paper for much more discussion on this topic.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2011, taking place Feb 2-4, 2011, in Miami. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.
Mae Kowalke is a TMCnet contributor. She is Manager of Stories at Neundorfer, Inc., a cleantech company in Northeast Ohio. She has more than 10 years experience in journalism, marketing and communications, and has a passion for new tech gadgets. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf