IP communication has become more pervasive in the enterprise, not only as a technology replacement for traditional telephone lines, but as an enabler for business processes and worker productivity. In the area of remote working, for instance, IP communication is breaking down physical barriers by enabling worker mobility and productivity. Organizations are also able to cast a wider net in seeking out new talents, where geographical boundaries have become less relevant thanks to greater capabilities provided by their IP network. ITWorld Canada sat down with Mario Belanger, president of Avaya Canada, to get industry insights on the current and future state of the IP telephony market.
ITWorld Canada: Industry analysts have noted a decline in pricing for IP telephony solutions, but the cost of long-term support has not significantly gone down. Why is that?
Mario Belanger: The price may have started to go down because of adoption, and partly competition, but I think it's more of a phenomenon of adoption in the marketplace. We believe there are over 400 million enterprise lines out there in the world, and less than 75 million have been converted over to IP. So adoption drives prices down. But many organizations, vendors, manufacturers and even end-users may not have known initially the complexity of deploying this new technology. We recognized that fairly early because we have been in the business forever.
We have acquired companies and tools to make sure that the support is similar to what you had in the past. It's a different technology yet the SLAs (service level agreements) or the requirements from customers are still the same – reliability, consistency of service, and so on. So we had to re-engineer our service organization so that they do support (those requirements). As a result we believe that we offer something that a lot of our competitors do not have and that is good support at a price that is worth what's paid for.
ITW: Voice over IP (VoIP) continues to gain traction in the enterprise, but for organizations that have not made that conversion and are planning to do so might be looking for ways to deploy more efficiently. Where should IT managers begin?
MB: Do things in an evolutionary way instead of revolutionary, which is rip-and-replace everything at once, combine the voice and the data network over one single platform as a flash cut. We believe there is less of a payback if you do this because you basically have to replace all your phones, you have to buy new cable that run over Internet, put power over Internet, and really re-engineer your entire network. If you open up a new branch or a new office, you may want to do this because it's evergreen. But if you are looking at upgrading or converging your existing network, we believe the best way to do things is at your pace.
Only deploy IP where IP makes sense, where you have an application that supports deploying IP. You can mix the old or the legacy systems with the new. The best advice for an IT manager is to really take a step-by-step approach to address where IP makes the most sense now, where you can get the most benefit out of it. And in areas where you clearly don't have a clear benefit because all you need is a dial-tone, for example, then leave your older infrastructure.