The biggest factors to consider when choosing devices that will connect to your UC solution are: determining the required installation time and avoiding installation-related issues (lengthy installations, device-related errors, etc.).
FXS / ATAs
Ideally, all devices connected to a modern UC server should be IP endpoints (PCs or SIP Phones).
In practice, there are many reasons to stick to analog FXS ports to connect analog devices:
- Users do not need advanced features on their endpoints
- Most fax machines have no built-in VoIP capabilities and require an ATA
- Analog modems connections
- Substituting many twisted pair cables with CAT-5 or CAT-7 cables might be:
- Too expensive
- Not possible because the resulting Ethernet cable would be longer than the maximum allowed Ethernet length (100 meters)
In such cases, the easiest way is to connect an ATA, which is a converter between SIP VoIP and analog interfaces.
In the previous blog article (Insight into the user endpoint) I listed user endpoints. This time I am going to characterize what advanced services can be implemented via SIP phones.
On legacy systems and modern VoIP systems, feature keys can implement a large set of services:
- BLF (Busy Lamp Field), which displays the status of colleagues
- Parking slots
- Speed dial
- Send DTMF
- Trunk / line monitoring and use
Verify how many of these keys your users will need. Also, consider the possibility of providing such advanced services via the UC Client. For example, the user can own a basic VoIP phone for calls but manage all other operations (presence, monitoring, etc.) via the UC client on the PC.
The user endpoint subject will be covered in this blog article. And I will also describe the importance of collaboration tools and desk phones.
Collaboration Utility / Softphone
In a modern UC solution, a single application should incorporate all services: audio calls, video calls, chat, and presence. The advantages of this arrangement include:
- A unified user experience
- Less investments in dedicated hardware such as VoIP phones, which are not necessary
- Immediate sign-on after opening the application
At the same time, having just one application that incorporates all services poses the following problems :
- It requires the computer and app to active (turned on)
- It relies on the computer’s environment.
- It might not be user-friendly for customers using older versions.
In this blog article I will provide some best practices for deployment planning that our UC platform will need, to work as expected.
When a new UC system is installed, users will need to spend a considerable amount of time and resources learning how it works. It is crucial to reduce the impact of adopting any new technologies by avoiding user problems.
The most common issues I have witnessed are “regressions” in how the system works, particularly when compared to the previous system. Some examples include:
- Missing features (especially telephonic ones)
- Poor audio quality
- Fax machines not working reliably
- PoS connections not working reliably
What follows is an incomplete list of leading vendors who are using the main protocols described in one of the previous blog articles: SIP and XMPP. This list is based on my personal knowledge. I apologize in advance for any exclusions.
The goal is to provide material for further analysis by the reader.
Cisco was one of the first to embrace the potential of Unified Communication systems and open standards.
Cisco historically selected MGCP and H.323 as VoIP protocols. SIP was later introduced, first on endpoints and then on servers.
Jabber, Inc., is a provider of presence and messaging software. It’s important to note that Cisco has acquired this company not the open standard Jabber (jabber.org). Jabber, by that point, had already been renamed to XMPP.