IT managers are ringing up VOIP

IT managers have phoned home with their interest in Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). According to Infonetics Research, North American VOIP service revenue rang up US$1.3 billion in 2004. Sales are expected to continue ringing up to $19.9 billion in 2009, according to the report.

Already VOIP can claim some fairly big wins. Cisco is working with integrator Prime Business Solutions to deploy 8,500 Cisco IP phones to British Airways staff at its U.K. offices and airports. The Cisco IP phones will be routed over a Cisco Ethernet network and will include Cisco’s MeetingPlace conferencing applications and Cisco CallManager call-processing software. The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

“British Airways is confident the new IP telephony platform from Cisco and Prime will deliver benefits to our staff, making communications easier and more accessible,” said Paul Coby, chief information officer at the airline.

Coby cited cost, flexibility, and functionality as reasons for moving to VOIP. “This new IP telephony system gives us the flexibility and functionality to run a busy airport terminal at significantly lower costs base than the old legacy system. In addition we now have the potential to integrate IP telephony as a means of delivering access and information to all our staff,” he said.

The British Airways installation is just one more sign of the growing interest in VOIP. “IT managers are very interested in VOIP and companies are starting to integrate more and more VOIP solutions into their products at all levels,” said Zeus Kerravala, Yankee Group enterprise infrastructure vice president.

Moreover, IT managers are not currently interested in futuristic solutions deployed over VOIP, he said. “They need to focus on the basic features that make IP telephones work in corporate environments,” he said. Cisco recently adopted this meat-and-potatoes approach when it introduced its Integrated Service Routers (ISRs), a mid-range product that includes VOIP capabilities.

“The new ISRs give users a lot of flexibility in terms of VOIP deployment,” said Paulette Altmaier, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s premises communications business unit.