Getting In the Know on SIP Trunking
Not all SIP trunk providers are created equal, so make sure you ask the right questions before selecting one for your organization.
Enterprise adoption of SIP trunking today is reminiscent of the state of IP telephony a decade ago -- lots of implementations but not the level of uptake and utilization as is possible, noted consultant Dave Stein in a No Jitter/Enterprise Connect webinar yesterday.
Aggressive PRI pricing may, in part, account for why enterprises haven't yet gone full-out with SIP trunking yet, he suggested. While 3 years ago enterprises could reasonably expect to reduce their telecom expenses by as much as 50% in a shift to SIP trunking, that number today is more in the 15% to 30% range. In general, organizations with many distributed sites distributed may net savings at the higher end while those looking strictly at PRI replacement will be at the lower end, said Stein, who is principal with Stein Technology Consulting.
SIP Trunking: How Experts Assess and Select a Provider," sponsored by provider Flowroute (tune in on demand). Flexibility and business continuity have become big drivers among his clients, for example, and many enterprise communications managers are starting to look at SIP trunking relative to delivery of new services. These include multichannel support for contact centers using presence and video and use of WebRTC, for example, he said.
Of course, not all SIP trunking can do all things. Vetting is a must. He suggested enterprises take cost as well as the following high-level considerations into account:
- Reliability: The goal should be to reduce all single points of failure, including at the network's edge -- routers, session border controllers, and security devices. "In today's world, the reliability impact continues to grow where it's not just voice but so many more apps riding on the same circuits and sometimes associated with voice -- so everything from call recording, distributed contact centers, UC apps, and conferencing," Stein said. "There's quite a bit more at stake."
- Voice Quality: The obvious point here is to assure your carrier provides a QoS service-level agreement that meets your needs and that you've configured your network correctly. You'll want to study your codec options carefully and, he advised, avoid compression where possible -- "spend a little bit more money on the bandwidth" instead. In particular, Stein said you'd want to get a guarantee on latency of around 150 milliseconds, packet loss of less than 1%, and jitter in the range of 20 to 30 milliseconds.
- Scalability: You need to make sure your carriers can scale to handle your calls -- not only during normal times but at peak volumes, too. Some carriers support a pooled model, as depicted below, that addresses scalability nicely, Stein said. Pooling essentially allows an enterprise to share SIP sessions among sites during bursty periods. Stein said he's seeing pooling come up more and more in SIP RFPs.
- Control: The ability to manage and get statistical insight into your SIP trunking environment is critical, Stein said. "You don't want a single pane of glass that overwhelms you, but it's important to have dashboard elements in one place that provide information where you can easily see utilization or voice quality and then be able to drill down into each one of those elements to determine what you may be seeing in real time," he said.
Savvy communications managers take these high-level considerations and dig in, added Dan Nordale, CMO of Flowroute, during the webinar. As an example, he shared "6 killer questions" Flowroute gets from its expert customers. I've listed those below, but suggest tuning in on demand for his detailed explanations.
- On reliability: When was the last time your service went down, what was the root cause, and what did you do to make sure it would never happen again?
- On quality: Do you proxy media?
- On cost: Are these rates too good to be true?
- On cost: How much will management cost?
- On support: Can you support team read raw SIP packet captures?
- On control: Which features and functions will I need to call you to activate and manage?
Surely any SIP trunking provider worth its salt should be able to handle a response to each of these questions with aplomb, I would think. I say, ask away -- and be pesky about it!
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