Article

How to easily overcome common SIP trunking barriers

As technology evolves at a breakneck pace, enterprises can expect a slew of them to simply be passing trends rather than industry-innovating movements. Cloud computing is definitely one of the latter ones, as businesses all over the world are migrating everything to the cloud, from mission-critical applications to corporate data to PBX systems. Everything is now about collaboration, so when some executives set their sites on Voice-over-Internet Protocol phone systems, IT departments are usually completely onboard.

The increased interest in hosted PBX and unified communications is actually impacting SIP trunking sectors, as these technologies are frequently deployed hand-in-hand as organizations look to reduce spending. It's a match made in the cloud as businesspeople transmit voice and data over Internet along with other corporate resources.

According to a report from Infomatics, the global SIP trunking services market was on track to grow 35 percent in 2014 and reach a value of $4.4 billion. However, the train is not stopping there. Infonetics expected continued worldwide growth for SIP trunking over the next five years, even forecasting that the market will be worth close to $8 billion in 2018.

"There is no denying the world is moving to IP, and SIP has become the de facto solution of choice for businesses for IP connections. In North America, slightly more than 20% of the installed business trunks are SIP trunking today, with significant upside opportunity," said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research.

"There is a lack of expertise in regard to configuring and managing PBXs and UC solutions."

An aura of hesitance
And while there are plenty of benefits and more businesses are making the switch to SIP trunking every single day, Infonetics research posited that they are not completely making the jump to SIP at once. Instead SIP trunking solutions are being deployed at one or two sites to start. There seems to be some hesitation.

No Jitter reported that 67 percent experienced an issue with PBX, service providers or provisioning, while PCWorld noted that there is simply a lack of expertise in regard to configuring and managing PBXs and UC solutions as well as a dearth of understanding when it comes to leveraging new capabilities. Businesses are facing barriers, and while it's not a huge problem for companies, delays in deployments and setup issues can be costly. Here are a few of the challenges that organizations might encounter along with some methods for circumventing them.

Interoperability
With so many vendors and services providers in the SIP trunking market, there might be some interoperability and integration concerns when trying to put together a puzzle of hardware and software. This is a shame because one of SIP trunking's virtues is its ability to scale as businesses grow and open new facilities.

The best solution here in regard to interoperability is to work closely with your networking and hosted PBX provider. This organization is here to help when deploying SIP trunks, so when procuring services, businesses leaders with a lack of understand should ask for guidance when choosing hardware and any necessary software.

Bandwidth
Determining the required amount of bandwidth for SIP trunks is not an impossible task, but it is difficult for businesses with seasonal demands or zero insight into their network traffic - which is far more common than some would believe. If too much bandwidth is provisioned, money is wasted, and if there isn't enough employee productivity will drop like a rock along with call quality.

However, with some careful planning, the necessary tools and a great service provider, some companies will be able to easily calculate their bandwidth needs. Simply put, it's a fine balance between usage, the amount of bandwidth per call, who's using the hosted PBX system and what features are being leveraged. No Jitter recommended using an Erlang B calculator, which is a function of some sorts, but XO tools is really the simplest solution.

Flexible bandwidth services are the key to high performance.Flexible bandwidth services are the key to high performance.

Another alternative is to sign up for bandwidth on demand services. This is ideal for firms in finance and other fields where seasonal trends drive businesses. With BoD, the risk of over provision is completely mitigated and employees will never experience poor call quality.

UC features
There are three types of technology users: Those who just get it, the employees who fully comprehend after an explanation and the people that'll ask how to do something a million times. This isn't a slight or attack on anyone. It merely means that 66 percent of staff members should go through a training session after deploying SIP trunks because those new UC features are going to stump many individuals until someone makes best practices clear.

PCWorld suggested that technical and project management expertise can be handy in this regard, but companies shouldn't go too crazy hiring external help. Internal teams can be more cost efficient, and there's always the service provider's resources.

Security and Resilience
On of the major benefits of SIP trunking is that Session Border Controllers terminate SIP trunks and provide security. Essentially, SBC devices encrypt voice and data, prevent malicious attacks such as a DDoS, mitigate toll fraud and generally protect the VOIP network. Combine SBCs with other monitoring tools, and IT professionals can rest easier at night knowing that cybercriminals don't stand a chance.

"Mother Nature poses no threat to SIP trunking."

However, Mother Nature is a whole other problem, yet it poses no threat to SIP trunking. Due to the fact that these phone systems are IP-based, businesses can roll SIP lines over to backup sites or any phone and devices on the corporate network. So next time there's a big storm and employees lose phone connectivity, they can port their number to their iPhones or Android tablets and continue working.

The last steps
In the end, businesses should always start SIP trunking deployments with a pilot program, according to PCWorld. The source recommended introducing a proof-of-concept system and testing it extensively to avoid integration, management and interoperability problems when things go live. Load testing is highly suggested.

After guaranteeing success, bring the plan into the project and production stages and get those SIP trunks up and running. If there are any problems, service providers are always just a call away to offer help and provide tools to make your SIP trunking and hosted PBX experience as great as possible.

Sheldon Smith is a Senior Product Manager at XO Communications, a telecommunication services provider that specializes in nationwide unified communications and cloud services. Sheldon has an extensive background in UC, and his position involves overall product ownership of hosted PBX, SIP, VoIP and Conferencing.