SIP trunking is proving itself as a way to reduce communications costs – fast. SIP trunks are currently being used by banks, hospitals and most every type of business, across every industry, to leverage the benefits of SIP and lower communications expenses.
Ingate Systems produces SIP-capable enterprise firewalls and SIParators (a piece of hardware that SIP-enables existing firewalls) for enterprises of all sizes. The company has been at the forefront of educating Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO attendees on how they can maximize the ROI from their IP PBX investments through a series of SIP Trunking Seminars since the Fall of 2006.
I had the chance to speak with Olle Westerberg CEO, Ingate, Steve Johnson, president of Ingate, Anne Coulombe, who handles SIP product marketing for Avaya’s Solutions Marketing Division, Sean Rivers, channel account manager at Bandwidth.com, and Joel Maloff, the newly installed director of marketing at Bandtel.
I asked Westerberg to describe a bit about the seminar series.
“We're running our fourth set of SIP trunking seminars,” Westerberg said. “Originally we started this because we found that people were not adopting SIP trunking and to a large extent we found it was because they didn’t know enough about it. ‘What is it?’ ‘Why should I do it?’ ‘What is the benefit?’”
Westerberg continued, “So it was started as an educational initiative, and we asked ourselves, what can we do to stimulate the market and we felt that this kind of seminar would be helpful.”
The seminars have been instrumental in educating the market about SIP trunking over the past two years, but work remains.
“We feel that knowledge about SIP trunking is better than it was in the Fall of '06,” said Westerberg, “but on the other hand people are still struggling with implementation and interoperability.”
The SIP trunking seminar is broken into three sessions per day for two days. The first day serves as a basic educational package with an overview of the service provider perspective and an enterprise equipment perspective.
The subsequent sessions will focus on a more in-depth program, featuring a theme, which is MythBusters, where the organizers try to dispel several myths surrounding the technology. The last day is dedicated to training and information regarding the SIPconnect standard and compliance.
Part I: SIP Trunking Professional Development Program
- Introduction to SIP Trunking
- SIP Trunking — The Service Provider Perspective
- SIP Trunking — The Enterprise Infrastructure
Part II: Shattering the Myths of SIP Communications
- Myth 1: VoIP is Not Secure
- Myth 2: Enterprise VoIP is Difficult to Deploy
- Myth 3: SIP Trunking is a Dead End
SIPconnect Compliance Workshop
SIP trunking is enjoying a fair amount of success these days, and many consider it to be the “hot technology” of the day.
Avaya’s Coulombe, too is seeing an increase in SIP trunking adoption.
“We’re seeing a net uptake in the industry from a SIP trunking perspective, in terms of customer installations. Nemertes Research shows us that close to 65 percent of CEOs are now either influencing SIP trunking or looking to implement SIP trunking within the next two years, which is a huge jump compared to what we had seen in previous years.
Rivers said that he’s seeing the same thing.
“From the bandwidth.com perspective we've seen a huge uptake in SIP trunking sales. And it seems to be going from the small end up.”
Rivers struck upon a thread that I have found to be central to the discussion of SIP trunking: Education. Especially education of the reseller channel.
“The more we educate, then more we can make it so that the first time the VAR does an install for a customer is not their first time ever. The key is trying to make the experience that the VAR has when they go out and do an implementation a positive one.”
Bandtel’s Maloff agrees. “We see it similarly but slightly different since our only business is SIP Trunking. Not only are we educating the VARs but we also need to bring them all the materials, and all the training and all the understanding for the end user, because this is not their core business. Just handing it off to a VAR and saying 'here's a great service, at a great product, a great price, great technology, now go sell it…’ does not work.
I asked the group to discuss what they would be speaking about during the seminar.
Coulombe said she would cover the communications systems manufacturer perspective. “It's no longer just the idea of VoIP; it's multiprotocol and it's definitely VoIP and video these days, with links to all kinds of clients, such as hard phones, softphones, multimodal devices — we're talking about the whole gamut.”
The whole group nodded their agreement.
Maloff said he would discuss the architecture that would be found in a SIP trunking deployment. “Bandtel has created a very distributed, N+ architecture that uses DNS functionality and redundancy to create a distributed structure that would allow organizations that have multiple offices to interact with one another without having to create islands of connectivity, that are then somehow interconnected.”
Rivers will offer the perspective of a company that has evolved into a SIP trunking player. “We didn’t start out as a SIP trunking company, we started out as a national Internet service provider, which gave us the ability to go back to our existing customer base and offer them more services,” Rivers said. “I'll also discuss the need for a standard demarcation point and a standard deployment that would enable VARs to be well trained and to increase the probability of a successful customer implementation.”
As the conversation wound down, I asked Ingate’s Johnson to sum up his thoughts regarding the SIP Trunking Seminar. According to Johnson, “we are still trying to continually educate the market. We've learned from every one of these seminars — something about the market, and something about people's concerns about SIP trunking. And, we're trying to address them.
“We really appreciate the partners’ participation in this because thy each bring a different perspective and yet together we bring a very complementary product and service offering to the marketplace.
“We believe that this gives us an opportunity to address that market in a very thorough, complete, robust way and to provide to them what we hope to be very valuable information about SIP Trunking and SIP installations.”
“Our hopes are to educate, inform, encourage the audience towards SIP trunking and to strengthen our relationship with our partners,” Johnson concluded.
Westerberg added one thought, regarding what happens after the sessions come to a close. “These seminars are done twice a year,” he said.” In between, we've formed a SIP Trunking network around the Web site (www.siptrunk.org) and we encourage anyone — partner or non-partner — to contribute in that forum.