Peer To Peer VoIP In The Enterprise?

from the good-luck-with-that-plan dept

There are plenty of software based VoIP offerings out there, but Skype really seemed to catch on quickly, in part due to its founder’s pedigree as the creator of Kazaa. It also works pretty well and is easy to set up and use. While Skype received a lot of press coverage this week for announcing that they’ll officially allow their system to call out to the regular phone system at some point in the future, this seemed like non-news. They’d said from the very beginning they were planning on doing this, so when it actually happens, it will be news. In the meantime, it looks like there’s some more competition coming for them. One aspect of Skype that doesn’t get very much coverage is the fact that it leverages P2P technology – sending your voice packets through other users’ machines. Another company, Popular Telephony, is getting ready to launch their own, similar solution that also relies on P2P technology for voice calls. They’re going to offer a free consumer version that will have all sorts of extras like voice mail, call waiting, call hold, and call transfer. They also promise to remain spyware and adware free (which we recently noted seems to be a new marketing “feature”). Their plan to make money, however, is where it gets more interesting. They will use that free version to build buzz for their enterprise middleware – which uses the same basic technology, but can be built into different kinds of terminal devices (IP telephones, PDAs, etc.). The focus for this technology is on the enterprise market, with the pitch being that a corporation can set up a phone network without needing central telephony servers. Of course, this is also likely to scare the heck out of most IT professionals when they realize this is because all their voice traffic is traveling through many other computers just “out there on the internet” using P2P technology. While, like Skype, I’m sure they have a good encryption story, it’s still likely to be a difficult sell into many companies. There is also the quality of service issue, which has held back VoIP in the past in corporate settings. While setting up your own VoIP system gives you some level of control, relying on random connections and random machines may (rightfully) scare many companies. Update: Oops. As is pointed out in the comments, Skype users connect directly once a call is placed, so the worry of voice packets traveling across other machines isn’t an issue here.

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