Unbundle your phone company services to maximize your return on investment – Unified Communications Update
It happens every once in a while in our business. Have you ever had one of those “I can’t believe what I am seeing and hearing” experiences?
A few months ago I was attending a business conference and ended up sitting next to a fellow consultant and friend. While waiting for the presentation to begin, he was working out a project plan for a substantial (7 figure) Unified Communications network deployment. Looking over his shoulder, I commented about the “nice installation”. He turned to me and enthusiastically replied that his client was getting a return on his investment of less than 24 months by utilizing SIP trunks on an upgraded data network. He then proceeded to show me the business analysis that sold his client’s company on a major network system upgrade.
What is SIP?
SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is the de-facto signaling standard for real time communications including Voice-over-IP (VoIP). SIP is an open standard which allows the carrier voice network to interoperate seamlessly with customer premise equipment. The logical voice channel established between them is a SIP Trunk.
The SIP protocol allows telecommunications to be efficiently converged onto a data network while maintaining toll or better voice quality. Cisco’s Unified Communications system connects natively to SIP circuits.
At this point I would like to point out that we’re not talking about using a service like Vonage over the Internet for your business telephone system. Those types of products have a “best effort” service level agreement and are usually not appropriate for business use.
Upgrade your data network for a lower cost, more reliable voice network?
Here’s the general idea for a business with multiple locations.
1. You bring in appropriate data circuits from your telco provider to connect all of your business locations (MPLS circuits are ideal).
2. Eliminate all of the local PSTN connections at the remote sites.
3. Port all of your local numbers to a SIP circuit coming into the main office.
Sound like a crazy idea? That’s what I thought when I first looked at the design. But now that we have reviewed and deployed these networks, I have become a SIP deployment evangelist. Because SIP trunks are delivered over existing IP infrastructure, businesses no longer have to purchase and maintain legacy TDM interface cards for delivered voice services. This reduces cost and points of failure. By utilizing a converged IP infrastructure, greater redundancy and uptime can be achieved at a lower cost. If the SIP trunk becomes undeliverable for some reason at the headquarters site, it can immediately and automatically failover to any of the remote sites, providing greater resiliency than is possible with a traditional PSTN configuration.
A key point in the design is to make sure that the data network is constructed using circuits with a service level agreement (SLA), like MPLS. This may appear more expensive than connecting remote offices over an Internet VPN but the additional cost is more than made up by the cost savings from eliminating all of the unneeded PSTN circuits at the remote offices.
If your business has to connect multiple offices and/or uses a substantial amount of long distance service, the return on investment for a Unified Communications System utilizing a combination of SIP trunks and data circuits will be significant.
What your phone company won’t tell you about SIP.
None of the traditional network carriers in Central Florida provide the total solution above. All of the traditional telco companies have some kind of SIP deployment but as of today, they all seem to want to sell it over a dedicated circuit using the same type of rate schedule they have been using for traditional (PRI) voice offerings. And they cannot port local numbers that originate out of the local calling area. This means that if you have an office in say, Houston, that office would not have a local number to call into unless you pay for a physical connection in the Houston office.
At i-Tech, we have been using providers like Broadvox and Triad Telecom for high quality SIP trunks. We work with several regional and national carriers to provide the data networks depending on our clients remote office requirements.
The savings we have anticipated for years is finally here
Many of us have experienced “The Fear” when faced with a revolutionary idea. First, you realize that the concept is so good that you need to initiate it immediately…before everyone else does. Second, you ask yourself, “If it’s such a great idea, why isn’t everyone already doing it?” Then, you tell yourself, “maybe they are and I’m missing the boat!”
I can tell you that this stuff is not bleeding edge technology. It works. It’s simple to deploy. You get a network upgrade that delivers faster and more reliable business applications, data, voice, video at a lower cost.
We are hosting webinars on implementing SIP where we provide a lot more detail and can field specific questions.
If you want to know more, check out our Events page at 10.80.0.12/newsEvents/events.asp.
VP – Customer Satisfaction Group
i-Tech Support, Inc.
i-Tech is a Premier Cisco Partner specializing in Unified Communications, Advanced Security and Wireless.
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