IT Is Warming Up to IP Telephony
Most IT departments are ready to deploy IP telephony, but can't because they still have to gain support from the rest of the business, according to Gartner's "User Attitudes to IP Telephony, 2005" survey. At the same time most of those surveyed intend to use external service providers at some point in the future.
Gartner surveyed 52 IT and business professionals and found that attitudes toward IP telephony are maturing. Buyers are no longer focused solely on saving money, although that is still an important factor. The majority of respondents acknowledged the need to invest in LAN and WAN services technology first. In addition, Gartner also found that stakeholders, or managers in the rest of the business who stand to benefit from IP telephony, are just as important as those directly using it. The challenge, according to Steve Blood, Gartner analyst and author of the report, is to identify such people. "Almost a third of those surveyed said they had yet to find stakeholders to promote deployments of IP telephony systems," he says.
In addition to questioning respondents about finding the budget and support to deploy IP telephony, Gartner also looked at the state of IP telephony among the companies surveyed. Half felt that their existing telephone system worked well, and had not deployed IP-based equipment. The other half had installed IP telephony systems to some degree. "We expect this figure to rise as suppliers announce they will no longer support software updates for older equipment that is not IP enabled, or systems with software releases beyond the most current [ones]," Blood says. When it comes to specific vendors, "Cisco Systems has significant mind share among IP telephony buyers, so it is unsurprising that a third of [respondents] named Cisco as their preferred provider," the report states. Avaya came in second with 15 percent.
Organizations also are worried that IP telephony poses additional security risks. Seventy-five percent identified specific concerns, with unauthorized access to the corporate network via a maintenance port receiving the most responses, followed by eavesdropping on voice calls and denial of service. Blood advises companies to keep this in mind when selecting an IP vendor. "Buyers must ensure that suppliers' security practices for IP telephony systems comply with company policy."
Finally, the report indicates that most companies recognize the need to involve third parties when designing, installing, or managing IP telephony. Only four of the 52 respondents said they plan to manage the entire process; the rest will use a network integration firm or an external service provider. Nearly 25 percent said they intend to outsource voice communications as part of a managed service contract. The survey did not indicate a clear preference as to how much a third party would be involved, an indication that "suppliers will need to offer flexible contracts moving forward," Blood says.
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