Within Aculab, we're often discussing the general acceptance of VoIP and whether we're any closer to the time when traditional TDM voice will disappear. One thing that is clear is that whilst we are in the midst of a large shift towards IP voice, the general use and acceptance of VoIP is still at a slower pace than we were predicting 1, 2, 5 and certainly 10 years ago. One analogy recently drawn in our discussions was with the continental drift. Plate tectonics theory states that whilst the actual speed is very slow, somewhere between the growth of a fingernail and the growth of human hair, it is relentless and unstoppable leading to the creation of new geographic features along its path, such as mountains and volcanoes - again an analogy we quite liked. Being right on the edge of the VoIP (or plate tectonics!) shift we're all very aware of this movement but to the majority of people it remains an unseen level of detail that does not concern them.
But why the reluctance? Quality doesn't get touted as the restricting factor any more. Sure there can be issues and certainly calls across the public Internet won't reliably give the same quality as a dedicated PSTN line, but generally people are very happy with the compromise of that quality when taking into account the cost savings in the call. Availability doesn't seem the reason either, most modern voice solutions use IP at its core, of both equipment and networks.
In today's economic climate, the traditional method of moving to new technologies by 'rip and replace' seems to have outlived its day. For both financial and acceptability reasons, moving to new technology now means a slow, measured approach together with a well thought through solution to integrate existing legacy equipment - without losing any existing legacy functionality. Horror stories abound of where systems have been put in but then taken out due to, for example, the CEO losing a particular feature which he, and perhaps only he, used across their corporate PBXs. Similarly the unavailability or poor quality of a VoIP connection when calling back into the office has forced companies to rethink their telecoms strategies.
Tim Joint was recently interviewed by Erik Linask of TMC where these issues were covered in more depth and some solutions proposed to help integrate legacy PBXs into modern VoIP environments without having to lose functionality, quality or control. The term we've coined for this is 'Extensibility' - the ability to allow solutions to be upgraded or enhanced without being forced to make major changes to the existing infrastructure. Listen to the podcast here and understand more about the issues and exactly how our ApplianX IP Gateway offers extensibility by allowing the easy addition of IP solutions or networks to legacy PBX installations.