Vendors extend VoIP interoperability

Signs of momentum behind IP voice/data convergence were plentiful last week at NetWorld+Interop 2002 Las Vegas as vendors moved to address common complaints about the technology, and early adopters shared their lessons learned.

Partnerships involving phone makers Pingtel Inc. and Polycom Inc. as well as voice-over-IP systems and security vendors Shoreline Communications Inc. and Jasomi Networks were announced, which could lead to more interoperable and secure VoIP networks. Best practices for how VoIP should be done were discussed during a session devoted to success stories.

Shoreline, which makes a distributed IP PBX system that supports analog and IP phones, announced it would offer Polycom’s SoundPoint IP phones as part of its overall IP Voice Communication family.

Polycom recently announced it is teaming with IP phone maker Pingtel to offer VoIP software and hardware aimed at organizations interested in adopting the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard for VoIP applications.

Also at the show, Pingtel demonstrated that its SIP phones could interoperate with Jasomi’s PeerPoint SIP-enabled firewall product. The box provides network address translation and firewall inspection of SIP traffic, which is not supported in many firewall products, the company says.

How to install and manage this type of equipment was the focus of a panel discussion at the show.

When rolling out IP telephony gear, it is important to consider IP voice as not just another data application, says Anita Dulude, technical services director for ThruPoint, an integration firm.

“It’s unrealistic to think that you can deploy IP telephony on your data network without having people with a voice background involved in the process,” Dulude says.

Dulude recently completed an installation of 2,000 IP phones at a new facility built by Merrill Lynch in Hopewell, N.J. She says working with the company’s telecom staff, which had a background in Avaya PBXs, but not IP voice, was essential in making sure the Cisco AVVID IP telephony gear being installed worked smoothly with the existing phone network.

For VoIP deployments that span multiple branches instead of one campus, a company’s service provider will be its biggest key to success, says Michael Shisko, director of IT for Experio Solutions, a technology-integration company in Dallas.

“It’s more important to work with your WAN vendor than your IP PBX provider” when configuring a multisite VoIP deployment, Shisko says.