VOIP Will Take On New Roles in 2007By Paula Musich | Posted 12-26-2006
In the networking space in 2007, voice over IP will be less about reducing communications cost on a converged IP network and more about improving productivity and creating new business applications that incorporate voice to generate new streams or enhance customer service.
The steady vendor drumbeat in 2006 around unified communications helped lay the groundwork for new Web 2.0-style applications that use voice as one of several components.
"The year 2007 will be the year of VOIP apps," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with The Yankee Group. "Every major vendor in [the space] now has some sort of [development] community around them, like Avaya's DevConnect. Cisco has one, 3Com is starting one and Microsoft pushes that further along as well."
Microsoft's joint partnership this year with Nortel Networks, which will allow the Redmond, Wash., software giant to develop IP PBX functions that can run on any Windows server, will in 2007 hasten the demise of the hardware-based IP PBX, said Dave Passmore, an analyst at the Burton Group.
"Nortel is throwing in the towel. Their new identity is to work with Microsoft to turn Office Communication Server into a next-generation unified communications server for text messaging, voice, and so on. That turns Microsoft into a direct competitor with Cisco and Avaya," said Passmore.
At the same time, Kerravala said service providers will begin offering voice as a hosted service, creating a "business version of Vonage."
Meanwhile, video conferencing, which has languished due to high costs and poor video quality, will start to take off, but not because of the kinds of quality advances achieved by Cisco's new Telepresence room-based system or Hewlett-Packard's studio-based Halo. Instead, it will be because of the growth of cheap cameras and instant messaging, Passmore said.
"IP PBXes and enterprise instant messaging systems now have video. I think you'll see it become a more routine part of how people communicate sitting at their desktops," he said. "The beauty of that is desktop PCs have sufficient horsepower and nice displays; cameras are dirt cheap and [users] can leverage [Session Initiation Protocol] signaling for VOIP."
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