Skype Plots Business VOIP Course with Cisco

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-24

Skype Sept. 23 said its Skype for SIP software cleared its interoperability certification with the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business, the latest step in the VOIP provider's plan to hedge into the market for business communications.

In beta since March, Skype for SIP is the VOIP provider's plan to let users connect their SIP-based corporate phone systems to Skype's Web calling services. The service lets users make free domestic and cheap international calls using office telephones instead of a headset plugged into a personal computer, which is the way the bulk of Skype's 481 million users make PC-to-PC calls with Skype under the company's consumer offering.

Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series is a family of unified communications servers that serve the voice, video and data needs of small businesses. These servers will route the calls Skype for SIP users make and receive.

For Skype, which rose to power by offering free PC-to-PC calls, Skype for SIP will help the company expand its revenue streams into corporate markets, something it has been unable to do under the aegis of parent company eBay to date. eBay is in the process of trying to sell off Skype to investors.

Having Skype for SIP certification on Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series servers means customers using Skype and Cisco will be able to direct their outbound calls to mobile phones and landlines around the world via Skype. Skype and Cisco claim businesses will save money because the outbound calls cost only 2.1 cents per minute.

Inbound calls made with Skype for SIP are free. These calls will be received in the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series solution and will be handled in the same way as any other inbound caller. Businesses will be able to receive inbound calls from Skype users via a global click-to-call button on their Websites.

Moreover, if a business buys and associates online Skype numbers with their Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series server, it can then receive inbound calls via Skype from business contacts and customers calling from landline and mobile phones.

IDC analyst Rebecca Swensen praised the deal on Skype's part.

"Cisco has a strong foothold into businesses with its PBX products. Skype recognizes this and also recognizes that the majority of businesses will not get rid of their PBX and use Skype only. The SIP interoperability with Cisco means Skype can offer Skype savings for those businesses. It's a smart move. And, I gather we'll see Skype work toward interoperability with other large PBX vendors like Avaya, as well," she said.

To qualify to configure the Cisco solution to support Skype for SIP, Cisco VARs will need to register for the Skype Service Partner Program and pass an online certification exam. VARS must also support business customers who may already be using the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business and want to integrate Skype for SIP.

More on this story on TechMeme here

While Skype's business plans appear to be moving forward apace, the future of Skype is cloudy despite confident statements from eBay CEO John Donahoe.

Co-founders Niklas Zennstr??ém and Janus Friis as current owners of P2P software company Joltid have filed lawsuits against Skype, its current parent eBay and the investors trying to  acquire 65 percent of Skype and let it operate as a standalone business.

Joltid licenses core P2P software to Skype, but does not want the VOIP service to use it any longer. The reigning speculation is that Zennstr??ém and Friis wanted to buy back Skype. When they couldn't, they sued to disrupt eBay's deal with Silver Lake and other investors.  

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