Skype Business Solutions

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June 20, 2007

Skype For Business

By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief

Many companies are using Skype (News - Alert) in their business but generally speaking these are Skype islands which do not interconnect with the plethora of telephony equipment in the organization. For example the ACD is an integral part of many an enterprise yet native Skype does not have access to such niceties. For example, there is no centralized auto attendant on Skype calls coming into an enterprise.
A few years back when there was talk of eBay (News - Alert) purchasing Skype and many critics who said eBay spent too much on the VoIP  software company, I countered by saying Skype is one of the world’s largest and still fastest-growing telephone companies. This idea still holds true and the one thing most every pundit forgot to mention is the Skype opportunity in business.
There is a tremendous SMB and enterprise market for Skype to exploit by offering its network for the benefit of businesses everywhere.
At a keynote speech at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo in 2005, Skype CEO Niklas Zennstrom told the world for the first time that Skype is doing very well in the business world. But this usage is generally client-based and does not benefit the company from an infrastructure perspective. In other words, Skype is typically used in a one to one fashion without the benefit of connectivity with enterprise telephony infrastructure.
Enter VoSKY Technologies a company providing a simple solution to integrate Skype into your core telecommunications infrastructure. Now before I go any further I would like to point out that like all internet telephony solutions, Skype is at the mercy of the internet connection for its call and video quality.
I have had many conversations with people who tell me Skype quality is far superior to the PSTN and others where people tell me the opposite. In reality, everyone is right because VoIP depends on packet priority and needs a certain amount of bandwidth free of excess problems to work properly.
My personal experience has been great video conversations over relatively low bandwidth connections. Similarly my voice calls have usually been good when the bandwidth is there.
VoSKY executives tell me they have the only Skype branded business-class solution and as such they seem to be in a great position in the market. This certification I am told took many tests to achieve. Another benefit of being a Skype certified partner is the company gets access to Skype development a full 6-12 months in advance. Why is this important? If you aren’t Skype certified, your equipment can lag far behind the current Skype version.
So what are some of the benefits of this business-class solution? Well for one there is Skype-based click-to-call for business partners, coworkers and customers. The calls map into the VoSKY Exchange series of products.
I am told the reseller community is benefiting from selling VoSKY products as the sale is straightforward allowing a customer to have rapid Skype connectivity without the need to manage individual desktop clients. In addition the company can justify the price as the solution eliminates PSTN calls and goes native VoIP to Skype’s terminating network. A company gets the prevailing SkypeOut rates which are usually 2.1 cents per minute but can jump to over $1/minute to Cuba.
A 4-port gateway the 9040 comes with 4 FXS ports and costs a MSRP of $1,250 and the 9080 has 8 ports and has a MSRP of $1,950. A separate server is required for each gateway as well.
One of the major benefits of the VoSKY/Skype solution is Skype’s ability to allow VoIP calls to take place regardless of network environment. NAT traversal is less of a problem for Skype than just about another VoIP solution on the market. It is for reasons like this company executives tell me the average sales cycle of a Skype gateway is 30 days as opposed to 90 days for the rest of their product lines.
But there is more. You can use these gateways to set up a multisite PBX (News - Alert) network but the kicker is you do not need public IP addresses to make this happen. In addition, typical SIP gateways do not allow you to call into them with a soft client. Also, these gateways do not need to be connected point to point; they can be installed in a hub and spoke fashion.
Of course no special SIP-aware firewall is needed. As long as the network users can surf the web, Skype should work. You can take advantage of a single numbering plan between offices and have Skype be part of your LCR system.
VoSKY calls this concept Skype trunking and the company is careful to not say Skype trunking can replace SIP trunking as the reality is you will likely want both depending on your situation.
If you have watched Skype users or even used it yourself and marveled at how it works. You can now put the power of Skype-based IP communications to work for your business. If you are a reseller, here is a great opportunity to sell the low hanging fruit in the VoIP space as customers will see ROI times on the order of months in many cases. The VoSKY solution is certainly one worth watching as it seems to be nicely positioned as the defacto enterprise Skype solution for now.
Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC (News - Alert). In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended VoIP event, Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.

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