No Jitter is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

VoiceCon’s Annual IP Telephony System RFP Workshop: Part 1

Another year, another IP Telephony System RFP workshop at VoiceCon. In many respects this year’s RFP was similar to last year’s, with one notable exception: Unified Communications. Unified Communications has received massive media coverage during the past year, especially following major announcements from Cisco Systems and Microsoft, and it was important to be included as part of the RFP requirements for a new IP Telephony System.

The 2008 version of TEQConsult Group’s IP Telephony System RFP, designed exclusively for the VoiceCon workshop, can be viewed and/or downloaded at the VoiceCon Orlando 2008 website. It includes the following major sections:

  • System architecture overview
  • Common equipment and peripheral interfaces
  • Generic software features covering station, attendant, and system operations
  • Telephones (desktop instruments, desktop soft clients, mobile clients)
  • Integrated messaging
  • ACD-based contact center
  • Unified Communications
  • Systems administration, monitoring and maintenance operations.

    There were also several sections of the RFP that were specific to requirements for E911, security, and mobile communications.

    The following were the general RFP feature, function, and application requirements:

  • Single system image for generic software feature operation; dialing; applications; management & administration
  • Converged or client/server design based on centralized or fully distributed call control
  • Emphasis on redundant/resilient design elements
  • Full featured, local survivability at remote locations in case of call control access or WAN issues
  • Five desktop telephone instrument models (Economy; Administrative; Professional; Executive; ACD) and a soft attendant console
  • Cellular extensions with advanced GUI client
  • Several peripheral applications: integrated messaging; UC clients; call/contact center

    For those not familiar with the terminology, a converged IP telephony system design is based on a call telephony server supporting traditional circuit switched port carriers that can be distributed across a customer LAN/WAN. A client/server design, also known as a softswitch design, consists of a call telephony server and distributed media gateways for non-IP system endpoints.

    This year’s system configuration was based on multiple premises communications requirements across a headquarters facility (1,200 stations), regional office (200 stations), and satellite office (50 stations), as seen in Figure 1. All facilities would be supported by common control centrally housed at the headquarters facility.

    For purposes of resiliency, the headquarters facility was required to support two geographically distributed equipment rooms, each housing common control servers. In case of WAN connectivity problems to the two remote facilities, local survivable processing options were required at the regional and satellite facilities. Seamless switchover to the local processor was required without service interruption or loss of any system features and functions. As in years past, some system vendors were unable to meet the very specific RFP requirements pertaining to distribution of common control servers and/or local survivability specifications.

    Voice terminal requirements are a very important part of the RFP, because they provide station users with an interface to the system features/functions and are typically the most variable system cost element due to the wide range of models and options. Based on specific customer requirements, voice terminals can be 20%-50% of the bottom line system price. The RFP’s general voice terminal requirements were as follows:

  • 90/10 mix of IP telephones and analog stations (phones, modems, fax terminals)
  • IP telephone requirements include several advanced design attributes (varies by model): wideband codec; Web services; call history log; Gigabit Ethernet connectivity; pixel-based color display; Bluetooth/USB interface
  • Soft clients for attendant console operations and mobile teleworkers requirements
  • Teleworker terminals: VPN desktop & PC client

    Specific requirements by model can be found in the RFP.

    A few vendors were not able to satisfy one or more basic IP telephone requirements such as a color display screen or an integrated Bluetooth interface. Although embedded Web services has been generally available on IP telephones for about five years, one vendor failed to support this requirement on their proposed Professional model. Full satisfaction of cellular extension requirements also proved a stumbling block for a few vendors, proving that important differences between competitive system solutions do exist.

    This year’s major new addition to the RFP was Unified Communications. The requirements for Unified Communications were of a general nature, owing to the overall complexity of the RFP as well as presentation time constraints. The Unified Communications RFP requirements covered the following:

  • Presence management & IM
  • Call control routing
  • Voice (speech) portal and text-to-speech
  • Web clients
  • Multimedia conferencing and collaboration
  • Microsoft support and interoperability : Outlook, Office and Active Directory
  • IBM support and interoperability : Lotus Sametime, Lotus Quickr, and Lotus Web conferencing

    Responses from the system vendors varied greatly for the UC section; some vendors were obviously stronger than others in this area.

    • 1