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Thoughts on IPT Deployment Concerns

No Jitter (
Hank Levine and Jim Blaszak

Here are some comments on Eric’s IPT deployment piece ‘What’s Your Biggest Concern?’ My law firm, Levine, Blaszak & Boothby, and our consulting affiliate, TechCaliber Consulting, are doing a bunch of these deals now for Fortune 100’s, so I have both interest and experience. First, Eric’s comment, “my gut reaction is that this isn’t about the IP-PBX, it’s about the underlying IP network.” Ten points for perfect execution, but 0 for a degree of difficulty. Or as they say in my kids’ world, “no duh.” The PBX’s et al are fine. The public Internet is also fine, but unlike the PSTN, it’s built for best efforts rather than instantaneous throughput reliability. Interestingly, a lot of people have some experience with Vonage and Skype and such, and their uneven quality compared to the PSTN fuels this concern.

Second, the number one concern “for both planners (50%) and deployers (40%), was ‘high upfront cost for IPT equipment.'” As you point out, that’s kind of self-explanatory. What you didn’t point out (maybe it’s also self-explanatory) is that that the same is true for TDM stuff, if you can still find it. The point is that the historic tendency in the voice world – unlike, say, PCs — is to ride the gear until it drops, which is more like a decade than the five years it takes to depreciate it fully. Unless capital budgets for voice suddenly open up (seen any pigs flying lately?) or TDM support just disappears, a lot of true IPT deployments — meaning new PBXs or the equivalent and new station sets — have been and will continue to be greenfield and places where the old stuff just quits. One way to avoid a piece of this is a ‘computing in the cloud’ solution. When I was young we called that Centrex, and it has the same advantages (and disadvantages) now as it did 30 years ago. If you’re an IT type, all of this may come as a shock. If you’re a legacy voice guy/gal it’s just same old-same old.

Finally, your comment that lack of skills is a bigger concern for deployers than planners rings true. In the relatively early stages of any new network technology, talent is scarce and the carriers corner a disproportionate chunk of it – remember frame relay? The guy dreaming about putting in the latest gee-whiz gizmo doesn’t have to worry about that, but the guy in charge of keeping it running does. Wide area Ethernet is getting really popular really fast in part because it avoids this problem – everyone who’s anyone has someone who knows Ethernet. You can avoid this problem by going the managed services route, but although the carriers love this and are pushing it hard, it’s expensive and the value proposition is very shaky at the moment (which is probably why the carriers love this and are pushing it hard…) –Hank Levine

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