Gartner predicts VoIP revolution despite cost barriers to adoption

The cost of IP telephony is the number one factor holding back wider adoption of the technology, a Gartner survey has found.

The cost of IP telephony is the number one factor holding back wider adoption of the technology, a Gartner survey has found.

Gartner has predicted that the convergence of voice and data network infrastructures is set to take off. But cost and political in-fighting between telecoms and network managers is holding back wider adoption, a survey of 200 businesses across in North America, UK, France and Germany has revealed.

"A primary inhibitor is that voice staff do not talk to network managers," said Steve Blood, research vice-president at Gartner.

But this is set to change. Blood predicted that by 2008, 90% of all new corporate telephone systems will be IP-enabled. And as companies begin switching from existing Frame Relay networks to 2mbps MPLS networks, they now have sufficient bandwidth for IP telephony, Blood said.

However, in a report on IP telephony published this month, Forrester Research warned users that in most organisations, existing networks were not properly configured to support IP telephony.

The analyst company said upgrading data networks and management to support IP traffic often represented the highest expense for convergence, and older network configurations could cost up to three times the price of the IP telephony product to meet specifications.

The report said users could incur additional costs owing to the higher bandwidth required to support higher volumes of voice and video traffic.

According to Forrester, many IT buyers are unaware that security for IP telephony is separate and supplemental to security for data networks. Security measures for data networks do not address the special requirements for voice traffic, it said. Users were warned that voice traffic might be impeded without the modification of UDP ports and data firewalls.

Despite these warnings, running voice services on a converged network is seen by many as a way for businesses both to simplify their network infrastructure and reduce running costs.

Network supplier Avaya identified three types of network-based voice service. Peer-to-peer voice over IP is a basic peer-to-peer internet calling application which normally uses software run on a computer, often with added features such as conferencing and presence.

Internet-hosted telephony is externally hosted and uses IP to route traffic between locations, providing the added facility of being able to make calls out to the public phone network.

The third option is IP telephony. Roger Jones, business development manager at Avaya, said IP telephony could simplify the infrastructure in organisations with multiple sites each running their own telecoms equipment.

Security needed for IP telephony

  • Traditional data firewalls need to be replaced, or specialised firewalls installed, in front-end defences to support voice traffic 
  • Provide network monitoring or scanning for security breaches  
  • Continuously monitor servers, CPUs and operating systems for security violations and intrusion 
  • Restrict access to the system through protected passwords, secure administration codes and other encryption methods 
  • Report regularly on system vulnerabilities and patches 
  • Prioritise real-time traffic for voice and video on the data network 
  • Segment voice and data on the network 
  • Determine whether the data network is capable of recognising and treating voice-specific protocols, such as RTP and SIP. 

  Source: Forrester Research

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