Need we say that 2008 has been a busy year in the world of VoIP? Weve got a dozen months worth of intrepid reporting to prove it. Time now to get some perspective. Well publish soon our prognosis on what the New Year promises, but first a look back on the departing 365.
The passing year saw VoIP security getting some serious attention; the loudly heralded wonderfulness of unified communications beginning to gain some tractioneven in the SMB marketthe beginning signs of Microsoft's possible rise as a force in VoIP and UC, and much more worthy of year-end note.
Sipera Systems VIPER (Voice over IP Exploitation Research) Lab, for example, has launched a free tool to demonstrate that IP voice systems are vulnerable to snooping. Vendors are following suit with remediations.
VoIPplanet.com, meanwhile, has tapped into the vast universe of freely available tools for testing system security and battling the SIPhackers.
Ingate Systems, among other commercial providers, released solutions that allow SIP to function in happy coexistence with strong network firewallseven those using network address translation (NAT), which is notorious for not working with SIP. Ingate's SIParator handles the NAT traversal and does deep packet inspection to achieve a number of security aims.
Weve been especially interested in the trend toward UC as a potential tool for the SMB market. Fonality for example upgraded the novel HUD ('Heads-Up Display') UC Solution for its hybrid PBXtra VoIP systems, adding to the basic presence, chat, IM, voicemail, and e-mail communications, access to Google Talk from any desktop computer, BlackBerry or iPhone, as well as Web 2.0 integration with CRM, and Google ticketing, billing, and financial systems, among other features.
At the same time, Microsoft has pursued UC along a separate track. Its Office Communications Server 2007, officially released in the fall of '07, began to penetrate the market this year. Partnerships are a big piece of the OCS story, and indeed, third parties have been busily creating tools on a variety of fronts to help integrate the UC application into the real world.
NetIQ, for example, launched a Windows-based management software package NetIQ AppManager for OCS.
WebMessenger created WebMessenger for OCS, which ports that system's presence and IM capabilities to the BlackBerry mobile handset.
Evangelyzea brand new company formed expressly to develop applications around OCSannouncedSmartVoIP, software that works in conjunction with gateways from Quintum, to integrate OCS and Microsoft Exchange with Response Point, so it can serve as a branch office VoIP and UC system.
The first major upgrade of Office Communications Server 2007, Release 2, is due to ship in February 2009. The new release promises to fill some major gaps, adding an attendant console, call routing, and workflow features, session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking, an audio conferencing bridge, and the ability to extend OCS presence, instant messaging (IM), and voice to mobile phones.
But 2008 also saw cable providers getting a foothold in business telephony. In the waning days of 2007 Cox launched Cox Business VoiceManager, a telephone platform integrating desktop phone, PC, and wireless devices. The company claimed to be the first cable provider in North America to deploy a fully owned IP telephone system for the business community.
In Toronto, cable giant Rogers Cable has a small-business VoIP offering up and running, and others are sure to join the fray.
There has been an explosion of services that forward VoIP calls to cell phones, using cellular data connections. One of the more interesting resulted from a joint effort between ITSP Junction networks and IP/cellular "switchboard" service provider fring. The result is that customers of Junction's OnSIP hosted PBX service can now use their cell phones as if they were on the IP network. Nice.
Among the enterprise-centric providers seeking to mobilize the full spectrum of corporate communications, à la UC, DiVitas Networks, one of the better established players, released the second generation of its Mobile Unified Communications solution early in the fall.
DiVitas also made public some customers relationships. Connecticut-based international carrier Sawtel teamed with DiVitas to provide the mobility component within Sawtels unified communications offering, already established in 16 countries. And DiVitas technology is also up and running in the very spread-out operations Albuquerque, NM's Thirteenth Judicial District Court
Startup and Cisco technology partner Agito Networks brought out its RoamAnywhere Mobility Router, which is designed to mobilize presence, text messaging, and voice capabilities for large enterprises that wish to preserve their existing investments in communications infrastructure (of which Cisco's customers are typical).
We'll next turn our attention to what's likely coming down the pike in 2009. Look for some fearless predictions just after the New Year dawns.
This article was first published on VoIPPlanet.com.