Bridging innovation with economic realities

Bridging innovation with economic realities

Tim Joint, Commercial Manager at Aculab
Tim Joint, Commercial Manager at Aculab

Tim Joint, Commercial Manager at Aculab examines how organisations can balance the business benefits that can be gained from technical innovation with the bottom line commercial realities of today.

Managers today appear to be at a crossroads concerning the integration of advanced technology into the enterprise. On one hand, they readily acknowledge that profound productivity and efficiency benefits can be harvested through a number of innovations. Unified communications, collaboration tools, CRM applications, and a host of vertically oriented solutions each have their own unique ability to enhance customer service and drive down costs. And on the other hand, economic realities dictate that every manager must prove a positive bottom line impact for each investment in technology.

This presents a conundrum for the enterprise. While the tangible productivity and efficiency gains of these new features and tools should be enough to justify full-scale adoption, the uncertainty of potential extraneous costs associated with integrating new technology often causes companies to shy away from investing in these solutions. Managers have become wary of the

unanticipated costs that seem to pop up with every new endpoint, application, or solution. More often than not there are network compatibility or performance issues that can impact service delivery, reliability, and certainly cost. And with most executives and board members watching every penny, business line managers and IT staff are acutely aware that capital expenditure must be fully justified.

For organisations that have a combination of IP and legacy TDM networks, the complications increase exponentially. Solutions that are optimised in an IP environment, like unified communications, experience severe limitations in the TDM world. Even in the more predictable domain of voice services, the disparate functionalities between converged and legacy networks can cause chaos in the enterprise, where operational differences such as feature availability and dialing plans can limit or eliminate anticipated productivity gains.

While the optimum solution for an enterprise would be forklifting the entire network to an IP infrastructure, there are few organisations that are willing to rip and replace a working infrastructure.

Instead, many businesses and service providers throughout the UK have discovered a more practical and cost-effective alternative to a complete network changeover. Gateway products breathe life into legacy infrastructure by giving customers a reliable and compelling solution to bridge seemingly disparate networks. Customers are finding that enabling the parts of the enterprise that can benefit from IP-based features, while extending the life of the existing TDM systems makes tremendous financial and operational sense.

Gateways can readily mediate a wide array of protocols and media streams giving users access to IP-based functionalities like unified communications and collaboration tools. In addition, gateways provide a cost-effective vehicle to integrate remote locations into the network, while supporting both legacy and IP services. Businesses still using the DPNSS protocol can benefit greatly from the implementation of gateways. Almost all PBX manufacturers have abandoned DPNSS, yet there are literally thousands of enterprises still using it. Aculab has developed a gateway product to give DPNSS customers access to the more common Q.SIG-based equipment, thus throwing a lifeline to the thousands of users that still rely on this ’dead end‘ technology.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking utilises the advantages of gateways from a completely different angle –and provides yet another opportunity for businesses to leverage compelling cost-efficiencies. In these scenarios, gateways connect TDM-based communications platforms to SIP trunks, rather than ISDN or DPNSS trunks. By facilitating long distance voice traffic through these SIP pipes, organisations can sharply reduce toll charges and other core communications costs, all through their existing infrastructure.

While mediating between disparate protocols and bridging various technologies are key aspects of gateways, these devices are also instrumental in providing survivability and redundancy to organisations in the case of an IP network disruption. In situations like these, the gateway can connect the IP PBX directly to the PSTN, resulting in a low-cost and reliable failover option for both voice and data communications. As more and more demands are being placed on the IP network, many companies now see gateways as a low-cost insurance policy to ensure the integrity of both critical voice and data communications.

From an OPEX standpoint, gateways are nearly transparent to the enterprise. They are easily implemented without interfering with vital voice and data services. Some of these devices can be configured through a simple web-based menu, and require only minimal maintenance from both the user and the reseller.

As corporations continue to reign in capital spending and management wrestles with competitive pressures and the demands of dayto- day operations, gateways remain a viable, cost-effective option. These organisations can benefit from advanced VoIP technology without incurring the significant expense and disruption associated with infrastructure changeovers.

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