A SIP of interoperability

Until recently workers in business campuses had not experienced and profited from wireless voice and data connectivity integrated on a single device.

Now Avaya Inc. and Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion (RIM) have joined forces to offer just that. The two companies are set to bring standards-based Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) solutions to the Blackberry 7270 WLAN device.

“[Under] the traditional campus phone model, you have a Wi-Fi device [with] a dial tone but don’t get e-mail on that device [nor are you] able to push out Web applications, or use applications to dip into network databases,” said Tracy Fleming, national IP telephony practice leader for Avaya Canada Corp. in Markham, Ont.

He said the new offering combines Avaya’s core strength in the enterprise telephony market and RIM’s capability in the mobile device market in one package.

Workers are clamouring for voice and data connectivity on their BlackBerry devices, according to David Werezak vice-president, enterprise business unit at RIM.

He said RIM partnered with Avaya because the latter is seen a leader in enterprise private branch exchange (PBX). “Many of our potential customers want interoperability [between] the Blackberry 7270 and their Avaya PBX and voice over IP infrastructure,” said Werezak.

Roberta Fox, senior partner with Fox Group Consulting in Markham, Ont., said having a WLAN interface and a VoIP application in BlackBerry devices is a natural evolution for RIM. “RIM has to start getting into the voice game as other companies are coming into their space to compete directly against the BlackBerry.”

Adding voice to their product portfolio is a very smart move on their part, she said.

SIP capabilities that will be available on BlackBerry 7270 include intelligent routing within the Avaya Communication Manager, conferencing capabilities, and the ability to access BlackBerry applications such as calendaring and integrated e-mail messages.

With this integration, Fleming said, enterprises can enable the 7270 so it is part and parcel of the overall phone system and allows for things like four-digit dialling to any user within the building or to any location within the network’s footprint. “If you are in building, that device could be your [only] phone. You don’t need another phone back on the desk somewhere.”

According to Fleming, as SIP is standards-based (802.11b), it allows for other partners to integrate with Avaya solutions.

However, Fox is sceptical of some of the touted benefits of SIP. “Everybody likes [standards-based applications] but nobody wants to do them because it means you can work with anybody’s equipment.”

Currently, the 7270 WLAN device is in the final stages of interoperability testing with the SIP-enabled components of the Avaya system.

A challenge for Avaya was getting the BlackBerry device to support SIP. To work around that, Werezak said, RIM took the cellular network out of the BlackBerry 7270 and replaced it with a WLAN stack and a radio that includes the SIP protocol.

Both Fleming and Werezak hope to roll out the 7270 device with SIP capabilities to campus workers later this year. Fleming said verticals most likely to use these devices include manufacturing and health care.

Related links:

VOICECON : RIM unveils Wi-Fi BlackBerry at VoiceCon 2005

RIM, Good Technology get mobile e-mail rolling

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