Voice, the most important communications service that individuals and enterprises depend upon most in an emergency has been traditionally the hardest to build into a unified communications (UC) business continuity strategy. This is because legacy PBXs and trunks are highly bound to fixed locations.
According to a report from SearchUnifiedCommunications.com, Voice over IP (VoIP) is revolutionizing the way businesses meet emergency. These backup data connections are now potential phone lines, and some UC managers are finding that software-based PBXs, or soft PBXs, afford them even more flexibility than dedicated IP PBX (News - Alert) appliances.
Catastrophe can occur anytime. Businesses are prepared to face these emergencies. They have backed up data and set up business systems for Web access so that they can secure their valuable business information even in catastrophe and access it later from anywhere else. However, it’s not the case with business phones. If businesses had to move their phone system to a new location, they will have to make additional investments to move this complicated physical infrastructure to a temporary location.
It's a common gripe among telecom engineers still using legacy TDM PBXs, said Zeus Kerravala (News - Alert), senior vice president and distinguished research fellow at Yankee Group, according to the report.
“Historically, if you lost your PBX, you lost your voice services,” Kerravala said. “You could set up a redundant PBX if you wanted to, but that was pretty expensive.”
Deploying IP PBX phones may not be the solution always. The IP PBX phones, especially the older models, have inherent problems with them. Some of them don’t support SIP trunking for external calls while others may offer support only the proprietary technologies.
Some UC vendors—including Microsoft, Cisco (News - Alert) Systems and Avaya—also limit support for their soft PBX to a proprietary appliance, hypervisor, host operating system and/or virtualization architecture, the report finds.
In contrast, other soft PBXs can run on industry standard servers, various operating systems and potentially, depending on the software and hardware capabilities, as an instance in a multi-tenant virtualized environment.
Setting up a hot site with a soft PBX often requires additional licensing and configurations, according to Dave Michels, an independent telephony consultant based in Boulder, Colo. Telecom managers should ensure that their wide area network (WAN) connection to the backup site has the appropriate levels of bandwidth, latency and loss, he said.
There has been growing interest among customers for soft PBXs in cloud computing environments, according to Stephen Brown (News - Alert), vice president of systems engineering at Mitel, a provider of unified communications solutions to businesses. Experimenting with a soft PBX as part of business continuity strategy is a common first step for enterprises interested in cloud-based UC, Brown said.
“In three or five years, all call control is going to be virtualized,” Brown said. “Customers are not going to continue to invest in legacy or traditional ways of deploying a solution.”
The Canada-based UC provider recently announced the general availability of its Unified Communicator (UC) Advanced software for devices that run on Google's highly popular Android (News - Alert) mobile operating system.
Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny