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October 20, 2008

Feeling the Budget Crunch? Try WinSIP for All Your VoIP Testing Needs

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

If your business is already feeling the effects of the slumping economy, you’ve likely already taken steps to counter that trend to whatever degree it is possible. If you’re fortunate enough to not have witnessed firsthand the difficulties so many are facing, you would have a hard time believing it’s not happening. For one, the media is makes it nearly impossible to forget, and the American government is doing everything it can to drive attention to it, having already passed a $150 million economic stimulus package early this year and, more recently, a $700 billion bailout bill largely driven by the troubled financial sector. Now, officials are debating whether a second stimulus package is required.
What it all means is that even those businesses that are still in good shape are showing concern and looking to save on costs wherever possible. That includes the telecom space, much of which has thus far been at least partially immune, thanks to the cost savings next generation communications technologies, like VoIP and Unified Communications (News - Alert), offer.
Because so many companies are looking to reduce operating expenses, many may be transitioning to VoIP solutions sooner than they otherwise might have. Because they can save significantly on recurring monthly communications bills, they are willing to replace — or at least enhance — their existing platforms with IP-based solutions that will provide rapid ROI.
Thus, technology cannot stand still, and vendors and service providers continue their ongoing battle to outdo one another with new products, features, and services, while looking for ways to also lower prices — all to win the end game, the customer.
But, while innovation and development continue, the telecom sector cannot weather this economic storm forever, and will also need to find ways to cut costs. One obvious solution is to build partnerships and undergo interoperability testing with those partners’ products. That means testing, for both providers looking to roll out new products in various deployment scenarios, and for vendors, looking to ensure their products can perform to expectations.
Recognizing the need, particularly in this environment, for a comprehensive, yet cost-effective solution, Touchstone Technologies has incorporated testing requirements into a single, all-software solution, WinSIP. It recently announced version 3.1 and won a Best of Show award at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO in Los Angeles in September for the solution.
“Our decision, right out of the gate, was to provide the best quality solution for our target audience at the best price point,” explained CEO Mark Stacy, when asked about the rationale for a software-only solution. 
Quite simply, software solutions are inherently easier to deploy and are easier to upgrade — and with no additional hardware to buy, are significantly less expensive.
I asked Mark which is more important to Touchstone’s (News - Alert) customers. His response, not surprisingly, was that it’s a combination of both. (Though today, price may well carry more weight.)
“A lot of people get sticker shock when they tell a hardware-based vendor they need to be able to handle 1,000 concurrent calls,” he said. “With Touchstone, they can download the tool for free and test it for usefulness in their own environments.”
Stacy added that the low number of support calls Touchstone gets from people looking to try out the software bears out its intuitive nature. In fact, he claims most users are up and running on their own in as little as five minutes, as long as they have a basic understanding of the SIP protocol.
“The most frequent feedback we get is, ‘I really like how easy it is to get started,’” said Stacy.
As a SIP-based solution, WinSIP is designed for all-IP environments, but Touchstone says is finds its solution being used in many lab environments in tandem with other vendors who are not yet on an all-IP platform, simply because “they don’t want to spend the extra money for the call volumes they need on the IP side.”
It is clear, despite the economic climate, that development in the communications space is not on the decline — communication must continue on both a business and consumer level. That necessarily means that testing also will also continue, with test solutions needing to also be enhanced to meet new standards.
The software-only approach taken by Touchstone is an ideal alternative in such an environment. It offers ease of deployment and use as well as simple upgrades, and Touchstone simply doesn’t care if it prices its solution significantly below it competition. 
And why should it? Stacy recalled a recent deployment where a company had purchased $500,000 worth of high-end test hardware, but were unable to make the solution work for two weeks. At that point, the lead engineer sought an alternative, evaluated WinSIP, and the next day put in a purchase order, replacing that investment for a mere $10,000.
For more on VoIP testing and solutions from Touchstone Technologies, please visit the VoIP Test Solutions channel on TMCnet.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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