New phone systems are actually ‘old’ phone systems sold as new
Remember the go0d old days of IBM Mini Computers and Mainframes? (Not to pick on IBM…, I like IBM but it is the first thing that popped in my mind). Back then, you bought an IBM computer, you bought an IBM printer, you bought IBM cables, and you used IBM network protocols. In many cases, some vendors were even thoughtful enough to include branded chairs and desks (would seem entirely unbelievable except of course that today Cisco is actually dictating paint color in their telepresence solutions…which may explain why Cisco lost a big, fat contract with California State University by submitting a bid that was $100 million more than the other guys.) 1
Now, this stopped being a good idea in the early to mid 80’s, yet today, when you ask Shortel how many of their systems support Cisco phones, or ask for a Cisco install the same question (i.e.: Nortel or Avaya handsets) the answer seems consistent. None really.
Funny thing, despite the fact that most IP phone systems produce an actual “ethernet” connection (the underlying network transport, or ‘highway’ used to connect stuff) into a box that then translates into their own respective protocols with nasty terms like MiNET , UNIStim , Skinny, MGCP. These are the fancy names of the proprietary protocols that are used to connect the phone you talk on to the phone system in your building.
Loosely translated, this means that they are not SIP, but rather a nasty list of proprietary protocols that despite being ‘IP’ or ‘ethernet’, only supports their own infrastructure without more legacy boxes or licenses to convert these protocols.
Part of the problem is this:
For over 10 years now, vendors have made customers look at VoIP incorrectly. VoIP telephony was often positioned as a mechanism to reduce costs. And for the past decade we have seen various vendors (Nortel, Mitel, Avaya, Cisco, NEC etc.) declare their turf and superiority. In reality, VoIP savings have never truly been about the phone system, but more-so about the underlying network. Sure, each has their respective features; you know that ever growing list of 70-80 features that each system will support, when in fact the average user requires 3 – 5 basic features.
Here is how we see it, and we built our voice cloud to think this way:
- Focus on entirely open standards. Open protocols like SIP and the new business drivers of the ‘Cloud’ clearly make your choices easier, reduce cost and add functionality while building diversity in that you don’t have today.
- You have a data network in your building today that connects your PC’s and printers – this should be used to connect your phones.
- The phones can be new, full featured and inexpensive; there really is no reason to pay over $ 1802 for a phone these days. Consider using your iPad3, Tablet or other device, combined with really great Wi-Fi in your building.
- You have existing infrastructure that connects your company or location to the Internet, and connections to your remote sites (if you have any) – why not use them to provide your phone lines and branch voice connectivity? With the savings4, you can have one ‘great’ network versus two ‘ok’ networks.
- Since things are now easier, cheaper and better, why not thing about redundancy? Instead of one data connection and a ‘bunch’ of phone lines into your building, why not just two data connections? Both of which can each provide a distinct path to the ‘voice cloud’?
- Move your phone lines and phone numbers into the cloud where they belong (they are in a phone company cloud today, they are just regionally defined, whereas in ours, they are not). Imagine calling your Toronto site and Atlanta site, and if there is a site related issue (ie: another Hurricane), voice, instant redirect to a second office, cell phone, other branch etc. All within seconds, not hours or days.
$ 100 million? I think they just needed a better #cisco rep? No? Well done #alcatel seems like a fair fight. http://ow.ly/fnOal
2Cisco SPA504G or SPA502G phones, http://ow.ly/fnRjw
3Using the $12 Bria iPAD i+ Aruba WIFI as my primary phone, Gone is the Aastra Voip set http://ow.ly/fnQZn
4The cost of the Data Network is consistent to what you pay today (or with Frontier likely about 20-30% less), the phone lines effectively are reduced by 50 – 70%+ and the total number of actual lines needed are reduced as well.