Like Avaya's one-X Quick Edition, the Siemens HiPath BizIP phones connect to an Ethernet network, locate one another, and configure themselves via integrated software. Up to 16 BizIP phones can form a single workgroup. The phones come with an integrated answering machine and support all the usual enhanced features, such as three-way conferences, that one would expect from a business phone. Up to two analog devices, such as fax machines or door intercoms, can connect to the network through analog ports in Siemen's low-end gateway, the BizIP Access Device. (Note: HiPath BizIP won't be available in the U.S.)
The big difference lies in the edge. While Avaya focused on single-site deployments, the BizIP Access Device contains a VoIP-enabled router and firewall for connecting to a SIP trunk provided by a service provider or two ISDN lines.
While it may be commendable that Siemens is embracing VoIP services, business owners will want to think very carefully about buying into such services with the BizIP phones. Security concerns should be on the top most of their minds because they will have to allow anonymous VoIP sessions past the firewall.
There's much that can be done by Siemens and service providers to prevent these potentially malicious sessions from harming the business. Any IT manager will want to want to be aware of those issues and quiz the vendors appropriately.
At the same time, voice quality will be a huge issue. As we noted with Quick Edition, the normal route of improving VoIP quality and tweaking QoS and VLAN settings won't work for a small office lacking the necessary in-house technical expertise for that sort of work. Siemens will likely face a stiffer challenge in this area than Avaya because the voice traffic travels over an IP trunk, where sound quality can be compromised by any number of applications eating up access bandwidth.
Siemens was not available for comment at press time.
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