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2. Data Centers and IP Private Branch Ex... > Ip Private Branch Exchange Systems f...

Ip Private Branch Exchange Systems for Internal Use

IP phone systems operate on servers that use industry-standard operating systems and often open-standardized protocols. They don’t require a great deal of space and are considered another application in the data center.

IP for New Systems

When organizations purchase new phone systems, they buy IP-based systems for a number of reasons. Voice services are not as critical for communications because many users rely mostly on electronic messaging. Today, most employees conduct their day-to-day communications by using e-mail and instant messaging. Thus, there is not the level of concern regarding the use of one network (the Local Area Network [LAN]) for both voice and data in the event of a crash. For the most part, voice is used for discussions about complex topics and audio and video conferences. It is also used for time-sensitive purposes such as reporting fires and other emergencies. These outgoing calls can be made on mobile phones.

Whereas some customers still maintain older, traditional-style phone systems, new systems are IP-based. These systems are easier to maintain and can be more easily integrated with all types of conferencing, contact centers, and Unified Communications (UC) systems. Moreover, IP technology has improved and the quality of voice carried on LANs is generally quite good. This is also due to improvements in LAN speeds. In addition, LAN reliability is such that downtime is no longer a concern of any substance.

While the initial cost of many IP telephone systems is no less expensive than older-style phone systems, ongoing support costs are lower. In addition, sharing centralized applications such as voice messaging and contact center services with remote offices is less complex than it was in older systems.

Makers of voice telephone systems such as Avaya, Inc. and Mitel Networks Corporation once dominated the market for telephone systems. However, the advent of IP telephony, wherein voice and data are carried on the same network, presented an opportunity to companies such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft that previously sold only data equipment and software.

Cisco Systems, which had relationships with IT directors and known expertise in data switching, used these assets as leverage to position its IP telephony products. Because IP telephones plug into switches, and IP telephones require Quality of Service (QoS) enabled partly by switches, customers had confidence that the switches and telephones could be made to work together for the QoS levels needed for voice. Prior to Avaya’s acquisition of Nortel, Cisco was the leading manufacturer of new IP systems, based upon number of systems sold.

Microsoft is another example of an organization that took advantage of its data offerings and reputation by introducing a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. Microsoft’s VoIP product, Lync, integrates with its Outlook desktop software. Outlook manages e-mail, address book, and calendar applications so that users can access all of them from a single desktop application. If a user has Lync, she will see telephone icons in Outlook for making, receiving, and managing calls.

Manufacturers of IP-based telephone systems include the following:

• Aastra

• Alcatel-Lucent

• Avaya Communications

• Cisco Systems, Inc.

• Microsoft

• Mitel Networks

• NEC

• Polycom

• ShoreTel, Inc.

• Siemens ICN

• Vertical

Direct and Indirect Channels and Managed Services

Most office telephone systems are sold through distributors and value-added resellers, not by manufacturers directly. However, there are manufacturers that use both direct and indirect sales channels. These manufacturers often have sales personnel that sell directly to large universities and multinational organizations. Distributors are used as an indirect channel for their smaller customers. Distributors include carriers and value-added resellers who, in addition to IP Private Branch Exchanges (PBXs), offer products and services such as data equipment, consulting on data networks, and managed services. Managed services include maintenance and consulting on IP telephone systems and peripherals, Wi-Fi wireless networking equipment, and data networks. Some distributors also act as agents for telephone companies. They place orders for data and voice services with carriers, audit telephone bills for customers, and coordinate resolution of repair problems with carriers. This is attractive to customers who want an organization that can recognize and separate outside network issues from telephone system issues.

A value-added reseller might sell an IP telephony system at below its own cost in anticipation of profits from managed services, ongoing fees for maintenance contracts, and add-on voice and data peripherals such Wi-Fi and videoconferencing systems.

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