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3/8/2007
09:58 AM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
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VoiceCon Report: Maybe This Really Is The Year For IP Telephony

After over a year and half of covering wireless and mobile, I'm back to networking and voice over IP. Here I am at the VoiceCon conference in warm and sunny Orlando, Florida, and I can't think of a better way of getting a quick tutorial on everything that's been happening in the industry. It's a bit overwhelming, considering it's the biggest VoiceCon ever, but it sure beats being back in below-zero weather that New York City is experi

After over a year and half of covering wireless and mobile, I'm back to networking and voice over IP. Here I am at the VoiceCon conference in warm and sunny Orlando, Florida, and I can't think of a better way of getting a quick tutorial on everything that's been happening in the industry. It's a bit overwhelming, considering it's the biggest VoiceCon ever, but it sure beats being back in below-zero weather that New York City is experiencing.At the opening keynote delivered by Avaya's CEO Louis D'Ambrosio, every seat in the house was filled. That's pretty impressive, since the room was big enough to hold a couple hundred people. It's been difficult to keep up with all the product announcements vendors are cranking out on a daily basis at the conference. Plus, there are plenty of distractions like the fact that every time I come out of a cold conference room, I look outside and see vacationers lounging by the pool. Did I mention VoiceCon is taking place at a lavish resort near Disney World?

Getting back to the conference, the exhibit floor has a good mix of vendors-big and small. Some big names include Cisco (of course), Avaya, Nortel, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, Siemens, and IBM. The carriers are also there, including AT&T, Verizon Business, and Sprint. I had a chance to briefly catch up with Fred Knight, general manager of VoiceCon, who told me managed and hosted services are finally taking off, since carriers have been busy with acquisitions and haven't done much in this space. The exhibit floor this year has a much more definitive set of hosted offerings.

Some other big areas vendors are tackling this year include:
- Unified communications (on laptops and mobile devices)
- Adoption of Web services
- Migration to software in telephony
- New platforms based on open standards

One company that really stands out at VoiceCon is Avaya. The Internet Protocol telephony provider put a lot of effort into promoting itself to the attendees, including hiring people to ride around on segways and handing out water. The ad on the segways reads: "I'm on my way to intelligent communications… Follow me to Avaya." That's really clever marketing.

It's easy to get excited about hyped up products and services that won't come to fruition for a couple of years at shows like VoiceCon. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the amount of products and services that were showcased and already available for companies to deploy. Johan Krebbers, group IT architect of Royal Dutch Shell, stressed in his keynote the importance of replacing the company's many PBXs with IP telephony. I think that speaks volumes about the state of the industry.

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