Experts urge caution on IPtelephony

Cisco has announced a family of IP-based voice, data and video software products in its bid to provide converged networks for...

Cisco has announced a family of IP-based voice, data and video software products in its bid to provide converged networks for corporate users. However, analysts have counselled user caution, writes Antony Adshead

As part of its Architecture for Voice Video and Integrated Data (Avvid) framework, Cisco said the family of products would raise productivity, lower total cost of ownership and enhance customer care, while the open nature of the IP standard would enable the use of applications from other suppliers.

Andy Oldfield, Cisco product manager for IP telephony in Europe and the Middle East, said, "Avvid is an architecture that allows us to deliver services end-to-end, from the applications you view, through to phones, Lans, Wans, and so on.

"With Avvid-based products, users can move functionality to other parts of the organisation easily. For example, if a call centre's traffic peaks, new agents can be brought in as required without the need to have bespoke agent positions. Also, remote sites can receive all media over IP. It is easy to rapidly deploy a new site or new applications."

Cisco's stated vision is that its Avvid framework is a migration path for existing Cisco data customers moving towards converged voice, data and video traffic on a common infrastructure.

However, analysts see Cisco's announcement as merely jockeying in an immature market.

Stewart Anderton, consulting director for networks and infrastructure at Ovum, said, "I think it has a lot to do with market positioning - it will take many years to get fully integrated voice IP PBXs established to replace circuit-switched PBXs. What Cisco and other manufacturers are doing is establishing positions that will not reap huge revenues in the shortterm but will have rewards when the volume of sales takes off in the future.

"It is widely accepted that there will be a move to IP-based telephony, but there is a lot of hype and it may take a little longer to achieve people's expectations with a secure, reliable technology. I suspect, for example, that there is currently no huge demand for video, and that, in general, it will take a few more years of development to get performance," he said.

Cisco's Voice over IP offering

  • Cisco e-service application engine: Java-based development tools for IP-based applications telephony/Web/database access. Enhanced display for Cisco IP phone 7960 unified voice messaging system

  • Cisco IP Softphone: PC-based control for hardware phone

  • Cisco IP Contact Centre: Call centre software including routing to peripheral/remote devices receiving calls from traditional TDMA networks on IP phones and Softphone

  • Cisco Web Attendant: call handling and line-state monitoring on a GUI

  • Cisco Auto Attendant: intelligent call routing

  • Cisco IP IVR: interactive voice response with drag and drop capability

  • Cisco uOne 5.0E: voice messaging system with embedded message store and directory to enable dialling by name, list, distribution groups, and so on.

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