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Unified Communications Magazine May 2008
Volume 1 / Number 6
Unified Communications Magazine
Richard Zippy Grigonis

SIP - the Key to the IMS Kingdom?

SIP, (Session Initiation Protocol) and its impact on IMS (and elsewhere) is a topic in this month’s issue. I can’t think of any protocol since IP itself that has spurred so much discussion, research and controversy.

By Richard "Zippy" Grigonis, Editor's Notes

SIP is popping up in unexpected places. Bill Miller is Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Digium, the folks who bring you the wildly popular Asterisk open source IP PBX. I was always under the impression that Asterisk was based on a competing (and some say better) protocol, IAX, but Miller recently explained to me how the situation is a bit more complicated than that: “SIP is becoming the world’s most widely deployed interface across multi-vendor IP platforms,” he says. “IP trunks that are marketed and sold as ‘SIP trunks’ are growing in popularity as a way for businesses to access VoIP services. Digium’s Asterisk Open Source Project plus AsteriskNOW and Switchvox may be the most widely-deployed SIP endpoints in the world, based on feedback and the number of service providers that provide this data to Digium. The IAX protocol was developed by Mark Spencer, Digium’s founder and CTO, to provide interfaces between Asterisk servers, but due to its ability to break through firewalls securely it has also been deployed as a VoIP service trunk. Digium has half a dozen certified phone partners, and all are SIP. None are IAX. So SIP is the most widely deployed and desired protocol on a global basis.”

Since Miller has such a broad view of major protocols in this industry, I asked him where SIP is headed.

“Some people call SIP the new dial tone,” says Miller. “As more voice providers deploy SIP, IP trunking for voice services that use SIP has become more common and interoperable. That means users are becoming more educated about it. Over the next two or three years the number of VoIP lines that specifically use SIP may surpass TDM as the voice trunk and endpoint connection that more people use to gain all the application benefits of VoIP end-to-end. SIP’s core features work across vendors and networks and will become more interoperable, similar to how Ethernet evolved over the years. SIP will become more stable and interoperable and will become the de facto connection for all voice systems.”

But to amass such diverse capabilities, won’t there be many extensions and ‘flavors’ of SIP in the future? Miller replies that, “Each IP PBX vendor who develops their own handsets will continue to add proprietary extensions. The emergence of IP phone leaders such as Polycom, Aastra and snom over time will standardize all major interoperability features and will be more transparent and comprehensive, providing support to multi-vendor solutions. All of this is good for customers and users.”

Surely, SIP seems unstoppable. Let’s hope some of that will rub off on IMS. UC Richard “Zippy” Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

Unified Communications Communications Magazine Table of Contents

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