back to article How does a global corporation switch to IP Voice?

Not so long ago I worked with a company that had more than a dozen offices around the world. Each had its own phone system – a total of five different makes – of which only two could handle IP telephony. As a colleague once put it, we used to “spend a lot of time phoning ourselves”. International calls to our own staff, …

  1. BillDarblay
    Pirate

    Get into VOIP

    if you want to destroy your career.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get into VOIP

      And then when you want UC integration that actually works you will have to upgrade the clients to Lync...

      "you wont own the communications network used to transmit the VOIP traffic, so interception is still just as possible as with the ISDN used previously."

      As above - use Lync - then you have end to end TLS encryption too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Re: Get into VOIP

        "As above - use Lync - then you have end to end TLS encryption too."

        Except when you break out onto PSTN

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Get into VOIP

          "Except when you break out onto PSTN"

          Then it is not on your VOIP network anymore is it? The point being raised was about interception on company internal international VOIP networks - which most companies will rent / lease.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Get into VOIP

      There isn't always a lot of choice.

      In Germany Deutsche Telekom is going 100% VOIP on residential lines this year and all businesses have to migrate by 2018. The reason is, allegedly, that their hardware suppliers are pulling support contracts for the ISDN hardware.

      Some cloud telephone exchange providers are offering encryption as well and the system we are installing also supports encryption.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interception law

    How does interception law operate for a company that starts allowing VOIP on its network between countries? Presumably some countries require the ability to intercept, and by a company moving the call internally to IP they lose that capability?

    1. The Crow From Below

      Re: Interception law

      Unless your company name has 6 letters and means a really really big number, then you wont own the communications network used to transmit the VOIP traffic, so interception is still just as possible as with the ISDN used previously.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Interception law

        "Unless your company name has 6 letters and means a really really big number, then you wont own the communications network used to transmit the VOIP traffic, so interception is still just as possible as with the ISDN used previously."

        I'm sorry, but your WAN is unencrypted between your sites? Someone sitting in the middle can just read all your docs, emails, etc.? Next you'll tell me that you don't have a firewall, and any user on the internet can just connect to your file servers?

        1. The Crow From Below
          WTF?

          Re: Interception law

          What are you talking about? Have you skipped your pills today? In my example my ISDN (the protocol/service I am replacing with VOIP) is encrypted end to end, so when I replace it with VOIP the voice traffic will still be encrypted (possibly using a newer more secure method, but the ISDN was still relatively secure for its time), but the data interception is the same as it has always been, which is what I mentioned in my original post.

          So if they could read your secure voice data before they can still read it now, if they can't because it was correctly encrypted they still can't, that was my only point with my comment stating that the interception of the data is just as possible as it was with ISDN, I never mentioned actually being able to use the intercepted data for anything.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Interception law

      Some countries don't allow VoIP because it by-passes their normal telco snooping. Countries that don't ban VoIP may still ban encrypted VoIP.

      1. The Crow From Below

        Re: Interception law

        "Some countries don't allow VoIP because it by-passes their normal telco snooping."

        Which countries? there were a few that people claimed don't allow it but I have held VOIP conferences with people from most of the countries claiming it has been banned.

        Dubai, Brazil, Mexico and China are good examples where people claim it is banned but in reality it isn't, at least not for business.

      2. Brad Ackerman
        Holmes

        Re: Interception law

        Those countries may be starting to think about VoIP encryption, but VoIP bans are generally intended to protect the profits of the state- or crony-owned telephone company. It's hard to skim off the top without something to skim.

      3. hi_robb

        Re: Interception law

        Not quite true,

        It's not banned, you're just not allowed to encrypt traffic. Most if not all vendors now have settings for justthis sot of thing. Likewise there are certain places where encryption has to be enabled (GOV for example).

        If deploying CISCO you have to be careful with that one as during install it asks about it and if you pick the wrong one, you're fecked further down the line and it's a nuke / start the install again.

        D

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Facepalm

    There is a nuance to this [SIP] protocol that lets vendors implement it in slightly different ways

    Welcome to the real world. Remember folks, SIP is not a standard: It's just a loose collection of vague ideas of how to transport voice signalling information in an IP packet.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Actually the good systems are perfectly interoperable, it's just the bad systems that don't play with the rest.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually sip wasnt written for voip. It was written for sessions. Its used for loads of things, not just voip.

    3. @MH561

      Director Global Marketing @UnifyCo

      Actually SIP Connect 1.1 is becoming a globally accepted standard - with liaison work in IETF and SIP Forum. Recently BITKOM (Germany) endorsed this standard. Yes, ISPs still require compliance testing to their own requirements as well, but as this matures there will be much closer alignment to the standard - same road National ISDN traveled back in the 80's. It eventually becomes a cost issue. SIP Connect 2.0 standards are now being developed addressing additional media inter-working concerns.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Excuse, 20th century called...

    A global corporation that is not _YET_ using VOIP? You ought to be joking.

  5. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    idea for another article

    ... how (and why) migrate home number from PSTN to SIP. Although honestly, that would be just setup instruction of base station or phone, and perhaps SIP server. However, positives (and negatives) for home user of such a move might be worth discussion.

  6. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The more sensible howto

    1. Learn your stuff: SIP is rather complicated and you need to be able to debug it. A quick glance at a pcap of a failed call with Wireshark can turn a week of waiting in vendor hotlines to a 10 minute quick fix.

    2. Avoid solutions where you don't get the manual: Those solutions will likely be installed/configured by sales droids with no clue of what they are doing.

    3. Plan to swap systems on the fly: 90% of the equipment and software in that are is absolute garbage, 10% kinda work to some degree. There is no correlation of quality and size of the company. So try to keep your systems interoperable and try to have small subsystems.

    4. Try to avoid vendor traps: If possible avoid the "unified communications" area. You will be able to replicate most of the functionality with simple soft clients (e.g. Linphone) and voice mail to e-mail.

    5. Price does not correlate to quality: There are hugely expensive solutions which simply won't work, but there are cheap solutions which work perfectly fine and reliably. Typically most systems using an Asterisk or Freeswitch server as their core work, or can be made to work with moderate effort, even under highly unusual situations.

    6. Avoid "forced certifications": If your vendor demands that only use certified other components/carriers something is fishy. SIP is a complicated protocol, but usually everything just works. Certifications are usually just there to check for that. If your vendor demands certification, it's likely they speak an overly obscure dialect of SIP which will cause problems without end. Good vendors give you free or cheap methods to try out your setup before you finally commit.

    If you act sensibly and avoid the traps you will end up with a system which can grow and adapt to the needs of your organisation. If you just buy the "unified" solution from your large "trustworthy partner" you will end up with a pile of toxic waste troubling you even further than web applications built for IE6. (yes 2 of the "avoid at all cost" companies have been mentioned in the article)

  7. @MH561

    Director Global Marketing @UnifyCo

    Hi Dave,

    Can you clarify something for me...."The Mitel systems were hooked together using Mitel's proprietary protocols, mainly because Mitel SIP trunk licences cost the thick end of £50 per channel and we would need several dozen channels, while Mitel-proprietary voice over IP (VoIP) trunks cost nothing."

    When you say "..per channel.." do you mean: 1) SIP Session, 2) PRI Channel (1 of 23/24) or 3) a complete trunk (24 / 32 channels)?

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Director Global Marketing @UnifyCo

      Seriously, if you have to ask that question, you should re-consider your decision for that product. On state of the art products such trunks shouldn't cost anything.

      The probable reason they cost something is that the PBX doesn't speak normal SIP, but some sort of rather odd dialect of it which probably even requires quite a lot of configuration to get it running enough so the customer lets you go home.

      We have at least one customers who has such a "big vendor" system which the vendor couldn't get running. They switched VAR and got one to install a custom Asterisk-Server which would translate between their really weird SIP and normal SIP.

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