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VoIP: the ancestor of Unified Communications

It is said that technological developments define how advanced a culture is. In modern society, technology is used as a tool for improving the way things are done in all aspects of life. In telecommunications, over the past 30 years, we have witnessed tremendous advancements, which organisations have sought to capitalise upon in order to achieve competitive advantage, greater profitability, greater efficiency, better customer service and greater staff morale.

About 15 years ago, a new way to deliver telephone services over an IP-based data network was being tested. The traditional model was based on analogue telephony technology delivered by PBXs which was proven, reliable and stable.

About 10 years ago, the delivery of IT services in most organisations was based on three infrastructure aspects: the data network, the analogue PSTN network and the application servers. This model worked well, but was expensive to build and maintain. From here we saw a new evolutionary trend appear called convergence, which presented the opportunity to use existing data networks to also transport telephone calls, in other words, converging two networks (Data + PSTN) into one.

At that point in time, IP-based telephony systems which delivered Voice calls over an IP network (VoIP) were as stable and reliable as the traditional analogue PBX systems, and while VoIP systems were not widely deployed yet, the cost savings obtained through the implementation of a converged network proved to be enough for most organisations to decide to replace their existing analogue PBX systems with IP-PBX systems.

Over the five years that followed, VoIP adoption skyrocketed. Vendors of VoIP solutions continued to invest heavily in increasing the functionality of their IP-PBX systems in order to match the functionality of the incumbent PBX solutions, which allowed more and more organisations to migrate to a VoIP-based solution.

By that point, VoIP vendors realised that the future of telecommunications was in developing applications that leveraged the functionality of VoIP to streamline workflows and create new ways to do things more efficiently. This realisation represented both a problem and a new opportunity for VoIP vendors (watch this space for my next blog where I will explain why this was a problem to VoIP vendors and what came of that). At this point we saw the birth of a new term, Unified Communications, which describes VoIP systems that deliver a lot more than just VoIP; they also integrate with the application infrastructure.

Posted by: David Porta, Service Line Lead, Unified Communications | 01 March 2010

Tags: Unified Communications, VoIP

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