IP Telephony Unveiled
The development of new clients, or new devices, is an area of both excitement
and concern for potential buyers of IP telephony. On the one hand, continuous
emergence of new phones and devices only reaffirms this technology, the market,
and the manufacturers who participate in the market. On the other hand, it does
cause reluctance to go out and buy hundreds or thousands of new phones today,
knowing that a radically different type of phone is likely to become available
within a year or less.
New IP phones can be realistically expected to appear at the same rate that
new cell phone technologies now come to market.
Figure 8-1 depicts a new type of convergence client that was introduced at the
2003 Cisco IP Telephony Users Group meeting in Dallas, Texas. This new client,
dubbed a virtual interactive agent by its developers at Norstan CDG, is a radical
departure from the early softphones of the 1990s.
Figure 8-1 PC-Based Virtual Interactive Agent
The virtual interactive agent looks nothing like a phone. This is by design, so
as not to restrict the end users’ view of the technology. Running on the end user’s
laptop or desktop device, this client provides desktop-to-desktop voice, video, and

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