Category Archives: Technical Posts

How to extend the functionality of SIP phones

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.

Feature Keys

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.

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Insight into the user endpoint

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.

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Deployment Planning

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

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Overview of Platforms with SIP / XMPP Support

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

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.

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What You Should Know to Evaluate UC Platform

In this blog article I will describe some essential characteristics that should be taken into consideration to evaluate UC platform.

Backwards Compatibility

Some UC solutions are still developed and managed without foreseeing a need for backwards compatibility. So, after a major upgrade of the platform, features might be removed.

A product should strive to protect the investment made by those people using the product, especially to minimize the work needed to maintain the product. After any major or minor upgrade, the old features should remain functional.

This logic must also be extended to hardware components (such as phones). For example, when the UC server platform is upgraded, support for existing hardware should continue.

It is acceptable for any IT solution to put an end-of-life date on a part of the system, but this information must be clearly published.

Whether you want to build a UC platform or choose one, pay particular attention to backward compatibility.

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