VoIP: A Look Behind the Hype

Well, it’s a good news-bad news situation. If you are interested in voice-over IP (VoIP) telephony the technology is finally up to speed. That’s the good news. But, if you want it installed at your corporate headquarters or connecting all of your employees with the promise of unified messaging, you may have years to wait.

Take Boeing, for example. It has a corporate-wide roll-out plan but VoIP won’t be installed at corporate HQ until the very end — seven years from now, said Graham Jones, director of IP Convergence at Integrated Research, a cross-platform systems management firm. At another of IR’s customers the problems are a little different, but the results are the same.

“One of our customers, Keyspan in Long Island NY, they have this curious problem where there’s actually a budget but they don’t have enough people to go around and visit desktops and put the new phones on desktops, to install them and to train people,” said Jones. “They just don’t have the people to do because they’ve been downsizing for the last couple of years.”

Dust Off

For corporate America the promise of VoIP has fallen victim to budget crunches, the recession, downsizing, and, other, more pressing IT challenges over the past few years such as Y2K and consolidation. But, as corporations begin to dust off plans for once promising technology initiatives like unified messaging, VoIP is slow is making its way back onto the corporate IT radar.

But, while most CIOs are interested in VoIP from a cost savings and integration point of view, they are reticent to commit their entire voice infrastructure to the new technology for any number of reasons. The Federal Communication Commission is just beginning to debate such things as access charges (which VoIP circumvents in most cases), 911 location identification issues and the FBI’s inability to tap conversations carried out over IP networks, to name a few, said Phil Asmundson, managing partner of Deloitte’s Telecom practice.

Of course, there are also are security concerns. Denial-of-service (DOS) attacks today shut down e-commerce servers, networks and email but do nothing to interrupt voice traffic. As more companies commit to VoIP expect attacks aimed at the phone system as well, said Jones.