During a recent discussion with Convergent Network Solutions, CEO Kevin Dowd expressed the view that the time is right for the implementation of Voice Over IP (VOIP) solutions. There can be little doubt that the opportunities that this technology offers are significant but it is important to keep those possibilities in the right perspective.
Convergent is one of those highly capable companies that has built its business on a number of services-based products. It has a reputation for strong skills in the networking arena and is currently working on ways to extend its view into the wider solutions market. It specialises in three main business streams;
- Network Integration - building solutions and solving problems based upon network architectures. A major part of Convergent's interest is in the implementation of Voice Over IP systems.
- Security - the full range of security issues from technology solutions for firewall management through to security design and even the education of employees so that they understand the risks and rules.
- Performance - developing models that can be used to simulate different workloads and events. This can be used in both operational and development scenarios.
So we can see that Convergent has a pretty good pedigree when it comes to talking about VOIP. It knows networks and has plenty of experience in the solutions where they are used.
Kevin Dowd's view is that the days where VOIP was seen as a new technology are gone. He believes -- and has customers to back up his views -- that VOIP is now a mainstream feature that global or distributed businesses should be considering.
He stops short, however, of positioning VOIP as a solution for all and sundry. Right now, the ROI comes from the replacement of time-served PABX systems with a VOIP alternative.
By now most distributed organisations will have a substantial network serving branches or remote offices. Many will already be routing telephone connections through reserved bandwidth. Thus, the principles of a VOIP implementation will not be lost. The costs will be relatively low in such cases and the gains through not replacing PABX systems will be significant.
One thing that is certain is that most of the old technical arguments about VOIP being grainy, taking up all your network bandwidth or simply not working have been addressed. The issues surround business needs more than technical problems.
All the other stuff about connecting home workers through VOIP links across the Internet? Dowd concedes that this is quite possible but not too practical at the moment.
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