Microsoft and Cisco Systems have joined forces to make it easier for firms to adopt voice over IP (VoIP) systems.
They are working to integrate a protocol into Microsoft software that will allow VoIP communications on corporate networks to get through network address translators (NATs), which commonly stop VoIP from working properly.
The two companies are working together to add the Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) protocol to Microsoft software. ICE is a proposed industry standard to allow VoIP traffic to be exchanged between devices on NATs-supported networks and devices outside those networks.
While NATs protect networks from unwanted intrusions by allowing only data connections that originate inside a network to be completed on internal network servers, it can block “packetised” VoIP calls that involve a device outside the corporate network.
This block has contributed to the technical obstacles that many firms must overcome when adopting VoIP, and the two suppliers say that removing these difficulties will go some way to making VoIP more easily to roll-out.
Microsoft and Cisco are now encouraging their technology partners to use the ICE protocol in their solutions, so that all devices making VoIP calls are interoperable across networks protected by NATs.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards body created the ICE standard, which is now being considered as a commercial solution by the wider industry.