Andrew Prokop
Andrew Prokop has been heavily involved in the world of communications since the early 1980s. He holds five United States...
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Andrew Prokop | November 16, 2015 |


SIP Surprises

SIP Surprises In The SIP School's SIP Survey 2015, there were many surprising findings -- good and bad.

In The SIP School's SIP Survey 2015, there were many surprising findings -- good and bad.

Ask me if I like surprises and the answer will always be, "It depends." Do I like the surprise of finding that my car won't start on a morning when I have a can't-miss appointment? Absolutely not. Am I thrilled about an unexpected bonus in my paycheck? You bet I am.

When I was given a copy of The SIP School's SIP Survey 2015, I found all sorts of surprises that had me vacillating between joy, shock, and disappointment. There were also quite a few "You don't say?" moments that made the survey both informative and enlightening. Every time I feel I know everything there is to know about the state of SIP, I am surprised with a new tidbit of information that proves just how dynamic this technology is. It has been nearly 20 years since SIP was first introduced to the world, and it's still a moving target.

It is not my intent to simply restate everything in the survey. Instead, I am going to pull out what I feel to be the most pertinent information and offer up an opinion or two. The full survey is available here for download for those who want to dig in deeper.

Setting the Stage

Let's start with a few basics about the survey.

This is the fifth year the survey has been given, and a record 1,098 communications professionals provided answers to 24 questions. A big change from previous years is that this time around there were more respondents from SIP trunks consumers (62%) than providers (38%). To my way of thinking, the experiences of actual users are a more important gauge of the state of SIP than those that sell trunks and backend services. I want to know how it is being used more than how it is being marketed. To me, that is a much better metric of success and acceptance.

Next, the questions were designed to segregate users from providers. While users were asked to answer all 24 questions, providers were asked to skip questions two through 16. This reinforces the emphasis on usage over delivery.

Other basic groundwork data includes:

  • The majority of respondents were from large enterprises.
  • The overwhelming majority of the respondents (47.19%) were primarily users of Avaya technology, with Cisco coming in at second place (30.77%). Microsoft (11.02%), Mitel (18.09%), and Asterisk (9.15%) combined for a total of 38.26%. Alcatel-Lucent, Broadsoft, NEC, Genband, ShoreTel, and Unify were also represented, although in significantly smaller percentages.
  • While there was some use of cloud services for communications, it was minimal. So, despite all the talk about moving to the cloud, most companies are still clinging to their on-premises PBXs.

Lastly, while the respondents were located across the globe, the numbers are skewed toward those in the United States. Specifically, the distribution looks as follows:

  • 52.1% -- USA
  • 8.50% -- United Kingdom
  • 7.14% -- India
  • 6.63% -- Canada
  • 2.04% -- Germany
  • 23.47% -- Other countries
Session Border Controllers

Given that the majority of respondents were Avaya shops, it came as no surprise that out of nine different SBC vendors, the Avaya SBC was the most prevalent at 17.05%. It was also no surprise that Oracle Acme came in at a close second with 16.09%.

The number that both surprised and concerned me was that 17.62% had no SBC at all. Are these people not aware of just how vulnerable their communications system is when they willingly choose to not install what I consider an essential VoIP security device? I wonder how they might feel about that decision after their first denial-of-service attack or REGISTER storm?

I wasn't surprised that quite a few chose to not offer up their SBC information. After all, security often begins with keeping your mouth shut.


Houston, We Have a Problem

I was happy to learn that 16.83% of the respondents never had a problem with their SIP trunks, but that means that 72.15% (11.03% have yet to deploy SIP trunks) experienced issues with their provider, edge device, or PBX. Problems with audio quality were the most common complaints with the infamous one-way-audio taking on the lion's share of the grievances. Since that can typically be attributed to configuration issues, the biggest problem may really be poor design and implementation.


I enjoyed reading the reasons why some respondents never experienced a problem with their SIP configuration. These included:

  • Good connectivity
  • Good design (no one-way-audio for these folks)
  • Certified configurations
  • Smart people (my favorite)
  • SIP knowledge (yes!)
  • Testing (can we ever do enough of that?)
  • Good documentation from the manufacturer

Next page: Operational problems, monitoring and WebRTC adoption challenges


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