Previously I have stated that Broadvox has successfully completed interoperability testing (IOT) with more equipment manufacturers than any other ITSP. That is still true. In fact, this year's IOT list is very impressive with the addition of Avaya, Mitel, Panasonic, ESI, NEC, Samsung, Xorcom and Zultys. I may have missed a couple and to you I apologize in advance. We recently completed formal certification with Digium after asking for over a year. Frankly, I had just about given up. But, the real question is why do we need to perform all of these tests? And when will they no longer be necessary?
The Internet engineering Task Force (IETF) is an open community of network engineers, vendors, researchers and service providers. It is open to any interested individual. It is an organization built with the overall culture of the Internet in mind. It includes the large and the small, the influential and the lesser known, the rich and the poor and... This effort is a consensus model, allowing disagreement to exist within the Internet community and the various standardization efforts. The best example is the use of either UDP or TCP for SIP. Either is acceptable although they are completely incompatible. A consensus model makes few demands and offers too many options. The specifics of how things must work do not sufficiently out weight the available options. Therefore, Broadvox and many others must perform IOT or face the unwelcomed situation where a service will not work with an OEM's product. The range of products is enormous when all IP PBXs, IADs and multi-media gateways are included as potential participants. Like most service providers, we use market share to establish who receives priority but we do not exclude anyone. Hence, the largest number of completed IOTs.
When will it end?
The more formal standard organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has only countries as its formal voting members, with companies having a lower level of membership and needing to work through their national delegations. Additionally, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has only nations as members and subdivides their membership based upon their level of standards sophistication and size of economy. The ITU and ISO standards are more rigid and result in, well, standardization. If the IETF remains a consensus driven group without sufficiently defining functionality for richly featured products, then IOT will be a mainstay as a result. The belief that SIP will evolve into a rock solid implementation like T1s or PRIs may be misguided.
The work done by the IETF is very important and impactful. Given the focus and interest of the body is the evolution of the Internet, better standardization would help all of us, including the IP community and ecosystem.