Smooth Operator: Phybridge Enables Businesses to Confidently Migrate to IP

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  June 17, 2014

The communications space is constantly evolving. Sometimes the changes create minimal interruption. Other times, they can lead to upheavals.

Phybridge (News - Alert) is a company that provides solutions to make the migration to IP voice (and soon, IP cameras) as seamless and affordable as possible.

That’s important given infrastructure upgrade costs are a significant and frequently overlooked cost of IP telephony and unified communications deployments, as noted by Nemertes Research.

“When accounting for capital and operational costs, LAN upgrades actually can exceed the cost of the IP telephony deployment itself,” writes Robin Gereiss, executive vice president and senior founding partner of Nemertes Research. “As a result, it’s imperative for IT leaders to understand the cost components associated with LAN upgrades.”

“When the world moved from analog to digital infrastructure, it didn’t create any Earth-shattering challenges,” says Oliver Emmanuel, president and founder of Phybridge. “But the adoption of IP phones was different, in that it exposed LAN infrastructure limitations that could adversely impact quality of service. Those limitations include Ethernet’s limited (~300-foot) reach, quality of service, and the fact that IP phones can create 911 emergency service challenges due to their nomadic nature.”

A handful of vendors came forward to try to solve these problems, Emmanuel says, but their approaches were vendor-specific and involved too many trade-offs. So Phybridge stepped in to fill the gap by providing a bridge between new IP endpoints and the IP PBX (News - Alert).

“Moving the convergence point from the phone to the central closet is beneficial because it eliminates infrastructure barriers that can prevent customers from migrating to IP,” says CEO John Croce. “With Phybridge, users don’t have to redo their IDF closets, and they don’t have to go through the cost and hassle of rewiring.”

Instead, customers can simply deploy a Phybridge switch, which delivers Ethernet and Power over Ethernet, providing four times the reach of the typical Ethernet solution. That enables businesses to migrate from TDM to IP and still be able to leverage their existing, proven-reliable voice infrastructure with a point-to-point topology designed for real-time voice application.

TransUnion Credit in Chicago is just one example of a customer that benefitted from the Phybridge solution. The business was looking to migrate its 1,400 employees to IP phones, and had a budget of $1.8 million for the new infrastructure (including new cable and IDF closets that met PoE requirements) it thought it needed to make that transition. But Phybridge was able to deliver a solution that eliminated the requirement of new cable installation and heavy-duty IDF closet changes, saving TransUnion a whopping $1.5 million in the process.

“We saved $1.5 million, fast-tracked our IP telephony migration by 6 months, and successfully completed our 1,400 user migration in a single weekend thanks to the Phybridge switch innovation,” says Tony Christopher, network voice and data manager for TransUnion Credit.

According to a study of nearly 1,400 companies by Nemertes, 43 percent of capital costs for IP telephony implementations come from the LAN upgrades. That means the costs related to the LAN average $860,000 in a $2-million implementation, says Nemertes. Another research firm notes that a single new drop alone can run in the $400 range.

“The more users you have, the more complex the network becomes, and the more value our offering brings to that customer base,” says Phybridge’s Croce.

“More important than the cost savings, however, is maximizing the return on investment for organizations while building a sound network foundation,” Croce adds. “The ROI comes from using the productivity-enhancing and cost-saving applications. There is no return in infrastructure and network complexity. The Phybridge backbone is proven to save organizations money, allowing them to allocate more of their budget on these applications. In addition, Phybridge solutions provide the converged infrastructure necessary to offer the quality of service needed for voice services.”

Phybridge technology can keep voice service up and running even in cases in which denial of service attacks take out the data LAN. What’s more, with Phybridge, businesses don’t need to update their voice infrastructure every time they want to do a data network refresh, such as moving to a higher bandwidth LAN. 

The company, which sells its products through a network of partners, is certified with all the major voice vendors – including Aastra, Avaya, BroadSoft, Cisco (News - Alert), Mitel, NEC, Polycom, Shoretel, Snom, Unify (the former Siemens Enterprise Communications), and Zultys.

 “Our go-to-market strategy is to partner with companies and work with them to help them migrate their customer base to IP,” explains Croce.

More than 250,000 users globally are now on the Phybridge backbone. Those customers include leaders in academia (such as New Mexico State University, Arizona State University, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech), in government (such as British embassies around the world), in hospitality (such as Marriott, Princess Cruise Lines, and Starwood Hotels), and at many other Fortune 500 companies.

Phybridge outfits such industry-leading businesses with solutions from its growing product portfolio.

UniPhyer was Phybridge’s first product to market. It’s an Ethernet and Power over Ethernet switch that works over one set of wires, and comes in 24- and 48-port varieties. It leverages existing telephone cabling infrastructure to create a parallel network with PoE. 

Last year Phybridge added to that with the introduction of its PoLRE family of switches. PoLRE stands for Power over Long Reach Ethernet. These products, which come in 8-, 24- and 48-port versions, deliver Ethernet and PoE over one pair of wires with four times the reach of traditional switches.

The company’s PowerWise technology enables four of the PoLRE switches to work together in a stack, and if one switch has an outage the stack goes into power sharing mode and can continue to deliver PoE to connected endpoints. The switches support AC and DC power, and the power supply is hot swappable.

“This summer Phybridge will make generally available a new switch that addresses the analog to IP migration of cameras. The camera migration is trailing the IP phone movement by about a decade,” says Croce. The new CLEER and EC solutions, which the company was showing at a recent surveillance event, will initially be available in 10-port unmanaged and 24-port managed form factors.

Phybridge also has a variety of other products and capabilities in the pipeline. The company later this year expects to unveil a failover adaptor that connects two LANs but keeps them physically separate. The adapter will be able snoop the health of the Phybridge voice and data LAN networks, and if the data LAN fails, all traffic can go over the Phybridge network. It’s also a power failover solution for the IP phone. Additionally, Phybridge expects to add Wi-Fi adapter capabilities to its products in the future.

Whatever the particular product, however, the overarching goal at Phybridge is to deliver cost-effective, simple to deploy and manage, and robust solutions that eliminate the infrastructure barriers involved in IP migrations – enabling customers to know they’re on firm footing as they make the move to IP.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi