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Commentary
5/17/2006
12:00 AM
Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
Commentary
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What's the Role for P2P Voice in the Enterprise?

Nemertes’ research shows that close to 95% of organizations are deploying, or have plans to deploy, voice over IP (VoIP) in the next two years. Doing so will certainly help those organizations lower their voice costs overall, as well as take advantage of IP capabilities to add new applications—and treat voice itself as an application going forward. However, among those companies, only around 23% are in the midst of a full VoIP adoption; among the rest, close to 30% are in the middle of a growing rollout, around 20% report a limited deployment, and just over 6% are still in the pilot phase. Furthermore, just over 50% of companies are or plan to extend VoIP to telecommuters. That means that today, the vast majority of organizations aren’t yet realizing the cost and productivity benefits of VoIP across the enterprise, or their entire employee base.

As a result, many employees are using consumer-oriented peer-to-peer voice services, such as those offered by Skype and Vonage, on the job, usually in an effort to save their employers a few bucks on interstate and international calls. But by their very design, these services pose significant security threats to any business IT infrastructure. As a result, IT executives are faced with a problem: Allowing their end users to act on their desire to save the company money, while not opening up their entire business to hackers and malware.

To help solve that challenge, a start-up vendor called BlueNote Networks is offering products, services and support to let businesses deploy Internet-facing IP telephony, video, collaboration, messaging and other session-based applications within their existing application infrastructure. BlueNote Networks is hoping to drive the integration of real-time interactive communications with Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) by combining SIP and Web services. The goal: to spur communications innovation while lowering the cost and complexity of enterprise voice, video and data services. BlueNote’s SessionSuite software lets companies deploy communication applications on the same data-center infrastructure as other applications, without deploying an IP or converged network.

The company’s first product, SessionSuite IP Telephony Enterprise Edition, is a software-based IP telephony communication system for voice and video communication services, both inside and outside the firewall; it also lets IT managers integrate those communications applications into existing data center applications. SessionSuite IP Telephony open environment treats voice and video as IP applications deployed on industry-standard servers. The intent is to let users access a rich set of interactive voice and video services regardless of network infrastructure, location and SIP-based client device. Application solutions include interactive service access for nomadic users and remote office locations, as well as partner voice service interworking. Future SessionSuite products will open APIs to third-party developers, so they can integrate communications capabilities into their productivity, enterprise, or industry-specific applications.

The product’s SessionGateway bridges VoIP networks and traditional PSTN/PBX infrastructures, so VoIP users can place and receive calls with legacy PBX users or users of the PSTN network. The software supports more than two dozen soft phones and hard phones. (BlueNote does not currently have its own SIP client, although it is working on developing one, and it resells other vendors’ products.) Pricing averages $250 per user. Security includes strong authentication, encryption, secure border traversal, and self-protection and healing capabilities.

Effectively, BlueNote is Skype for the enterprise, offering flexibility for companies not yet fully deployed on IP or converged networks but nevertheless interested in leveraging the benefits of VoIP, SOA and integrated collaboration applications. The software lets companies build their own Internet-facing telephony system (like Skype): They own the software and the servers, and they’re offering an Internet-based phone service to their employees, partners and customers.

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