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October 06, 2009

VoIP Developer Q&A: VoIP Proliferates Among SMBs

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

As the quality of Voice over Internet Protocol improves, more and more small- and medium-sized businesses are moving toward IP-only deployments. One reason companies are adopting the technology is for increased efficiency. What’s more, VoIP helps smaller firms present themselves as larger enterprises with a wide variety of tools and applications it offers, an executive at a U.K.-based provider of enabling technology for the communications market, told TMCnet.
TMCnet had a chance to put some questions to Ian Colville (News - Alert), product manager for Aculab. In an interview, printed in full below, Colville talks about the benefits of VoIP for small businesses and how the VoIP developer can help service providers, enterprises and application developers deploy “compelling solutions.”
Colville also discusses the role of the global economic recession on the VoIP industry and his thoughts about the future. Our exchange follows.
TMCnet: A recent Dell’ (News - Alert) Oro Group report predicted that IP lines will grow to almost 60 percent of small business line shipments by the year 2011, while traditional systems are expected to decline to less than 5 percent of the total market by 2011. What is Aculab (News - Alert) experiencing for growth in its VoIP customer base? 
Ian Colville (pictured left): All of Aculab’s products touch VoIP through its ability to enable IP communications on the service provider, enterprise, and applications developer sides of the equation. We are certainly seeing a trend toward IP-only deployments based on the interest generated in our Prosody X and Prosody S fully IP-centric media processing platforms. Steady and exponential growth in shipments of the Prosody products is certainly a strong indicator of the overall uptick in VoIP. 
In addition, the growth in VoIP is also reflected in the increasing interest in Aculab’s GroomerII gateway product, as well as Aculab’s ApplianX brand of single-purpose gateways. What is particularly noteworthy is that customers — whether they are businesses or service providers — are looking to deploy VoIP without having to endure the huge financial costs and disruptions associated with ‘rip and replace’ strategies. Any solution that allows them to extend the lifecycle of their existing infrastructure by introducing VoIP and other IP services into the legacy network is going to receive careful consideration. So yes, we’d have to agree that we too see plenty of activity in the proliferation of VoIP.
TMCnet: VoIP is gradually replacing traditional phone services in the business arena. What are some of the benefits of VoIP for small businesses? 
IC: There are a number of benefits for small businesses. From a network perspective, the ability to combine data and voice solutions into a single pipe offers a tremendous amount of efficiency to a small business. In most cases, a hosted provider can offer small businesses very compelling pricing for combined voice, e-mail, Internet and video services that can be deployed relatively quickly and requires no technical expertise on the part of the business.
VoIP also gives the small business the opportunity to present itself as a large enterprise through a variety of tools like presence management, unified communications, collaboration, remote extensions and other applications. Each of these solutions are optimized in a VoIP environment, and can aid immeasurably in an SMB’s ability to reach and be reached by customers, increase sales, and reduce costs beyond communications, like travel and shipping.
TMCnet: How can Aculab help businesses looking to deploy VoIP solutions? 
IC: Aculab’s community of partners and product developers has compelling solutions for service providers, enterprises and application developers looking to leverage the growing popularity of VoIP. Businesses of all sizes and make-ups can take advantage of the variety of hosted services delivered from Aculab-based platforms. Whether those platforms are hardware (Prosody X) or software (Prosody S) -based and offer IP-only, or a mix of TDM and IP, or essential gateway interconnect functionality, the whole gamut of communications applications is readily available today. Larger enterprises, platform vendors and service providers can take advantage of Aculab's product range, including VoiceXML (News - Alert)/CCXML, to rapidly develop communications solutions or service delivery platforms for a range of horizontal and vertical markets. Behind all of these products and solutions is Aculab's Professional Services Group. It stands ready to help customers rapidly deploy a product, or to help service providers get their solutions to market quickly.
TMCnet: The global recession has impacted all business sectors, including communication technology. What impact has the economy had on VoIP? 
IC: It seems that the economic problems we've seen globally have had a stimulating effect on the VoIP business in general. If you look at shows like ITEXPO, there is a great deal of interest in 'all things VoIP.' We exhibited at the show in Los Angeles recently and it was very successful for us in terms of new business opportunities. SIP trunking and hosted services were of significant interest to attendees, and Aculab is well positioned to enable customers to deliver these capabilities. People and businesses are looking for a greater return on investment, or a 'bigger bang for their bucks.’ Aculab-based solutions not only enable VoIP, but through our gateway products, enable extensibility of current infrastructure to take advantage of existing investments while gaining the advantage of new efficient capabilities such as SIP trunking and VoIP. And that's got to be good as we climb out of a recession.
TMCnet: Where is the future of VoIP headed?
IC: As an industry, we’ve solved the basic heavy lifting of making VoIP reliable and useable for business. The next step is to take advantage of the variety of new capabilities enabled by IP. Aculab is leading the charge on many fronts.  
Greater bandwidth availability per call opens new vistas in the areas of wideband or high definition audio capabilities. HD Voice will be the next phase of VoIP growth and acceptance. No longer does VoIP have to be seen as ‘like PSTN, but cheaper,’ it can now be ‘cheaper than PSTN calls, and better quality…’ The Prosody X and Prosody S platforms deliver wideband codecs for high definition voice today. 
We must also commit to progress toward the ‘five-nines’ reliability PSTN networks strove to maintain. Redundant operation in the SIP trunking network will provide failover and network reliability approaching and possibly exceeding today’s PSTN. Redundant SIP Server capability is a core component of the field proven SIP stack available across multiple Aculab products. This technology will enable service providers to achieve network reliability on par with today’s SS7 network with improved CAPEX and OPEX (News - Alert) performance.
The future of VoIP is only limited by the imaginations of those people creating new applications and services. Aculab stands committed to providing hardware and software platforms, which enable these ideas today and in the future.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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