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Octel demise bodes well for IP Telephony

Whenever we write a story about the brave new world of unified communications and Internet Protocol-based telephony in general, we always run across the same roadblock. Sure, the technology is neat, allowing you to combine voice, e-mail and chat into one all-encompassing presence. But why should an agency upgrade its telecom infrastructure when the "legacy" equipment is working to the five 9's? Unified communications will just remain a pipe dream until someone makes a business case for the upgrade. And it's tough to make a business case for replacing technology that is working just fine.

Well, within the next few years, those cases are about to be made in a major way, pointed out Rudy Casasola, president of advanced technology integrator Presidio.

Why? Avaya is discontinuing support for its Octel voicemail equipment. Many agencies use Octel, and even those that don't will face similar end-of-life scenarios with their own equipment. Support costs will rise and the equipment will age. As a result, federal agencies will be looking around for replacements.

Cisco, for one, is making hay with Octel's demise. The company's Unity platform can even mimic the Octel system so that a user's new voice mail system will behave exactly as did the old Octel one, Casasola said.

But even the telecom equipment vendors such as Nortel and Avaya are throwing their R&D dollars at IP telephony, Presidio chief technology officer Dave Hart added. Indeed, you'd have to search through their sites pretty hard to find mention of the TDM equipment, which indeed is still being sold.

And this investment in IP telephony is smart money, he said. The cost for IP ports continues to drop while TDM remains flat, cost-wise. So the question is not when an agency can afford to upgrade to IP telephony, but when can it no longer afford to stick with the old gear?

Posted by Joab Jackson on Jun 11, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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