SIP Makes the World Go 'Round

Convergence Corner

SIP Makes the World Go 'Round

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  December 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

It’s hard to believe we’ve just about wrapped up another year – it seems only yesterday that we, at TMC, moved into our new corporate headquarters just after returning from ITEXPO East in Miami last January. In the past year, so many exciting things have happened in the communications space. I can’t possibly even begin to touch on them all here, but Paula Bernier (News - Alert) recaps many of the exciting trends in her Year in Review on page 54 – appropriately starting off with the explosion of the tablet market. As you visit TMCnet each day, you’ll be sure to see even more reminiscing about the biggest stories of the year and what we expect will top the wires in 2011, starting with Paula’s “20(10) Days of Techness” series.

Certainly one of the most hyped events in recent memory was the launch of Microsoft’s Lync 2010 unified communications platform, and is a significant improvement over its OCS platform from three years ago. More importantly, it ties into one of biggest trends in business communications from the entire year – the continued growth of the SIP trunking industry. By basing its architecture on SIP, Microsoft is both acknowledging and driving SIP as the protocol that will drive the next generation of unified communications.

I spoke to Matt Vlasach of Unwired Revolution (News - Alert), who agrees, and further points out that this only increases the importance of SIP trunking in ensuring scalability and functionality of unified communications systems and helping bridge the gap between TDM and IP-based communications.

That said, SIP trunking is still a relatively new technology and despite its growing adoption, many businesses and integrators are still hesitant because they are unsure as to how to ensure QoS and interoperability with PBXs and other network elements. In fact, Vlasach says much of his work involves helping customers salvage their unsuccessful SIP trunking deployments, simply because they didn’t have all the information.

“There are so many implications that carriers and PBX (News - Alert) manufacturers aren’t telling you,” he says. “Customers need to understand these things when they are looking at SIP projects if they want to deploy successfully.”

There are some PBX vendors, though, which have started to strongly push the idea of en enterprise session border controller (E-SBC), which not only helps with interoperability between SIP trunks and PBXs, but also as a security measure.

“Security conscious enterprises are starting to look closely at E-SBCs for their security features and firewall technologies, in addition to helping overcome normalization and interop issues,” Vlasach adds.

But there’s only so far PBX vendors can take the initiative, especially when carriers typically suggest deploying SIP trunks is a simple process, overlooking the fact that, while their part may be easy, they leave the enterprise with an often daunting task of ensuring their communications systems function as expected.

Businesses are seeing the warning signs and, while some are putting off their projects, many are wisely performing more due diligence before signing on with any vendor or provider, ensuring they know exactly what they’re getting into. Yes, in most cases, with SIP-enabled PBXs, setting up basic call flows is fairly easy, but advanced features and UC capabilities are another story, requiring guaranteed interoperability.

As with any technology deployment, the only way to know for sure what is needed to ensure successful SIP trunking deployments is to educate yourself. Vlasach suggests the best place to get a wealth of information about SIP trunking, security, and unified communications is the SIP Trunk-Unified Communications Summit in Miami, Feb. 2-4, 2011 (collocated with ITEXPO). The event, sponsored by Ingate, calls on a number of experts from the community, including analysts, carriers, and PBX vendors, offering a complete educational program over the course of the three-day experience.

In Los Angeles this past October, Vlasach discussed an implementation in which Unwired Revolution designed a system that included a data center component, a ShoreTel communications system, and Microsoft OCS for integrated IM and web conferencing, demonstrating how an E-SBC pulls the complete solution together and ensures interoperability between the trunks and communications components.

I expect the sessions in Miami to be even more exciting, especially with vendors and providers seeking to leverage the Lync platform in true UC solutions. In fact, Ingate also is looking to dedicate an entire group of sessions to the service provider community, helping educate them as well – the fact is, most of them will be doing their customers a great service by attending, thereby better equipping themselves to fully prepare their customers for deployment.

If Shaheen Haque, territory manager of the Middle East and Turkey for Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert), is right in suggesting the M&A trend in the tech space will continue in 2011 – and most of us would agree he is – education can become a differentiating factor for the diligent provider. (More of Haque’s predictions for 2011 can be found here.)

Whether you are an enterprise/SMB, service provider, or technology vendor, this conference is a can’t miss event: “Anyone who is involved with or is considering a project with SIP shouldn’t maybe go, they must go,” says Vlasach. “This is a call to get people informed about SIP trunking technologies, and it’s worth the time to attend.”

For even more educational resources on these topics, I also want to direct you to two valuable resources on TMCnet: the SIP Trunking community and the Enterprise SBC channel.

Good luck with your SIP projects, and see you in Miami!

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi