Panel talks Centrex

As the market for voice over IP starts to mature, some of the leading hardware and software vendors are trying to find ways of plugging into the challenges of hosted and managed IP communications services.

Like any outsourcing deal, turning to a services provider for a fully hosted and managed IP platform, or either hosted or managed services alone, can hold both positive and negative implications. Vendors at the VON Canada (Voices on the Net) exhibition in Toronto earlier this month talked about the significance of IP outsourcing and how they’re evolving their products to fill in the gaps.

Among the perceived benefits of a hosted and managed environment are investment protection, simplified support and high availability, according to Dustin Goodwin, a voice architect for Cisco Systems Inc. But the user typically loses out on integration, customization and rich media functionality.

“It’s a trade-off,” he says. “IP Centrex is just not up to speed with the rich media solutions it can offer, and the integration of voice, video and Web collaboration. Customization also has its limits.”

IT departments are tasked with finding ways to do more with less, using IT to drive employee productivity and to grow revenues, says Tony Rybczynski, director, strategic enterprise technologies for Nortel Networks Corp.

When considering any outsourcing project, Rybczynski says it’s imperative not to lose sight of the business objectives. “Technology has to take you where you want to go,” he says.

Nortel recognizes there will be “different strokes for different folks,” says Rybczynski, and customers will choose between private, managed, hybrid or hosted services. He notes that hosted services don’t necessarily translate to reduced costs, and are largely dependant on individual vendor pricing.

Rybczynski says some of the triggers for moving to an IP communications platform include planning a new site, upcoming expiration of the Centrex contract, the need to replace telephony systems and new mobility initiatives.

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