Multivendor Outcome

By Ellen Muraskin  |  Posted 2004-08-20 Print this article Print

?"> Ron Gruia, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, speculates that Dow Chemicals outcome may be similar to Merrill Lynchs, with a mixture of Avaya and Cisco solutions in different sites. This jibes with rumors heard by the integrator. In fairness to Cisco, a lot of this replacement story is the inevitable fate of a vendor entering the VOIP game at its outset. "With a lot of these announcements, technology changes by the time they get implemented," says Daniel Briere, CEO of research firm TeleChoice. "New products come out. For instance, Verizon announced a big deal with Juniper networking gear a year and a half ago. By the time they did it, they found that the market replacement requirements made them deploy Cisco right alongside Juniper," Briere said.
But Gartners Goodness comes down a little harder on the vendor. "Everyone is beating up on EDS on this and rightfully so, but theres some responsibility incumbent upon Cisco, for EDS and Dows sake, to make this work," he adds.
Certainly, Cisco continues to announce a string of customer wins for IP telephony, and the latest large one–at The Boeing Co. for 150,000 employees in 48 states and 70 countries–gives the company a chance to show us what "incremental" changes have accomplished in its gears scalability. Click here to read about Covads business VOIP, which follows an unusual model. Theres a lot to be learned here if more details ever come out. How much of the already purchased equipment will be used? When the project was launched, very early in VOIPs timeline, SIP (session initiation protocol) did not yet have the VOIP imprimatur it has today. Are the desktop phones being kept? Can their firmware be reflashed with SIP–which Cisco now supports? To what extent might IBM–now contracted to "manage" Dows network and expected to use its Tivoli system to do so–host management of the voice aspect, and will some of this be subcontracted to Equant? Will we learn that it was unrealistic to take on the role of bringing offices in 63 countries under one IPT vendor? Perhaps what this story will prove is that far-flung enterprises must learn to live in multivendor, TDM-IP harmony. Certainly, there are VOIP switching outsourcers looking to prove that very point, with their own offers to normalize the signaling of different PBXes through their own network servers. Equant is one of them. But we have to wait to hear their success stories at this scale, as well. In the meantime, Id be eager to hear from those with some knowledge of the project, its stumbling blocks and redirection. While I wont post this information as fact without attribution or secondary confirmation, it will help me learn (and share) the best questions to ask and practices to adopt in considering large-scale VOIP deployments. Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

Ellen Muraskin is editor of's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.

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