[asset_library_tag 2099,]IP telephony is often known under other guises, including internet telephony and voice over IP (VoIP). In a nutshell, IP telephony enables voice communication over IP networks. It unites an organisation's many locations - including mobile workers - into one network, and promises cost savings by combining voice and data on one network that can be centrally maintained.
It is fair to say, though, that takeup of IP telephony has been slower than the industry anticipated. There was an initial buzz when VoIP offerings first emerged, but then people realised there was a little more involved than they had first thought. For instance, some of the earlier systems did not have the same features and functions as traditional phone systems, so upgrading would require an entire workforce to be retrained, which would cost time and money.
Also, IP telephony vendors have been constantly trying to evolve their products, so businesses have not wanted to invest in a system that could be replaced or outdated in several months' time. Another necessity before a business can make the transition to IP systems is a solid IP infrastructure, as is having enough capacity in the network.
However, IP telephony has many benefits and is now more affordable, making it a realistic option not just for large, multi-site organisations, but also for SMEs.
According to a survey conducted by analyst Forrester Research last year, 54 per cent of landline decision makers in North America and Europe were increasing their budgets for IP PBX systems and services, with planned migrations most likely wrapping up in the next few years. Forrester attributed the growth to diminishing concerns over reliability and resiliency, as well as declining costs, and credited an ever-increasing mobile workforce with forcing more companies to consider IP telephony.
The benefits of implementing IP telephony are certainly wide-ranging for a business, but it also creates opportunities and increased margins for resellers. IP telephony can open up opportunities for providing hosted services, for example.
What is clear, however, is that it is the channel's responsibility to assist corporates in considering all the business advantages in deploying and maintaining a highly available converged network.
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