ARN invited a select group of integrators to talk about challenges and opportunities in the IP telephony market. Brian Corrigan chaired the discussion.
BRIAN CORRIGAN (BC), ARN: HOW REAL ARE SECURITY CONCERNS AROUND IP TELEPHONY AND WHAT IS BEING DONE TO ADDRESS THEM?
Craig Somerville (CS), Somerville Group: Different customers have a different view on security. There are certainly a few who believe IP communication is not as reliable and solid as the PBX has traditionally been. Some still miss the security thing all together. Others get all fired up about IP telephony but when we raise security it adds to the budget, which isn't a good thing when you are going through cost justification.
Wendy O'Keeffe (WO), LAN Systems: I wonder whether some customers' IT staff are not up to speed.
CS: Every customer has a completely different type of IT guy. In the smaller customer they just have an administrator who is overwhelmed by the whole thing anyway and just does what we tell him to do. Bigger customers have people who think they know what to do. Often they will roll out technology against what we think is right. That's their call and sometimes we have to pick the pieces up at the end.
Andrew Leigh (ALe), Allcom Networks: There's a big gap in knowledge, particularly in smaller companies, when it comes to what voice is all about, what it can do and security issues. They try to think about voice from a traditional data perspective and stop people hacking it on the network but don't think about traditional voice issues such a toll fraud.
Tony Heywood (TH), LAN Systems: So there's a large level of ignorance about the pitfalls of IP telephony and security not being married together? ALe: When you are working in enterprise you have guys that understand voice, others that understand data and a totally separate security team that should look at all aspects of security. They traditionally look at security of data and, even though it is running as an application on the data network, voice is often ignored.
Gregg Kirkham (GK), 3D Networks: A lot of the time security is put on but not tested against the other feature sets that sit on the same network.
Kevin Bloch (KB), Cisco: This discussion so far has been about voice but we are moving away from that because it is really about unified communications. It is a bit like opening a shop and having one door for customers to come in. That's pretty secure. If you open more doors and more branches you have a better chance to do more business but there is also more chance of people you don't want getting in as well. Our message is unified communications but if you don't do it securely you will pay the price. The whole context of convergence is about doing things once and doing them well.
BC: WHAT OTHER CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING IN THE MARKET?
Chris Fydler (CF), Oriel Technologies: The requirement to upgrade switching and network infrastructure. Business case and budgetary analysis is taking a lot more time than some of the other sales we do. We do a lot of blade and SAN integration, which is much easier to justify than IP telephony, particularly for customers that might have three years left on a lease for an existing PBX. From a technology point of view we find a lot of prospects are getting the idea of integration between different applications. It's a matter of educating them about what's possible. There's a lot of middleware development still required and I think that is a great opportunity.