Sebastopol, CA--Among the rapid technological advances over the past twenty-five years, one venerable system has remained virtually unchanged: the global telephone network that's been in use for more than a century. And now, even that is due to be replaced. Within the next ten years, according to Jupiter Research, as many as two-thirds of the 230 million landline telephones in the United States alone will be replaced by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which makes phone service via the Internet possible. A vast majority of systems management specialists plans to adopt VoIP technologies within the next year.
"VoIP has sweeping implications for everybody who uses telephones, the Internet, fax machines, email, and the Web," notes Ted Wallingford, network architect and author of Switching to VoIP (O'Reilly, US $39.95). "Hundreds of thousands of VoIP-based devices are in use in the United States, and the next evolutionary step for the Internet is to become reliable enough to replace the global telephone network as we know it."
VoIP is particularly appealing to business customers, especially those with enterprise networks. With Switching to VoIP, Wallingford offers a hands-on guide for IT managers, network engineers, and systems administrators who are looking for practical ways to adapt a local- or wide-area network infrastructure to replace existing enterprise telephone networks, such as PBX systems. Migrating to a single network carrying voice and data is easier and cheaper to scale and maintain, and allows for more centralized administrative control. "If it's done right," he says, "VoIP can transform the cost model of telecommunications by combining the overhead of voice and data expertise."
There are potential pitfalls along the path to Voice over IP, he warns, and already several high-profile implementation failures have occurred among large enterprise adopters. "This may be why IP telephony has such an intimidating reputation," Wallingford suggests. Switching to VoIP addresses the most common reasons that VoIP migrations fail, and answers questions about protocols and equipment that are not clouded by sales pitches from IP vendors.
Wallingford ran head-on into that problem recently while designing an ambitious, multi-site communications network upgrade for a large construction contractor. "To prepare myself to lead that project, I sought out good reference material," he explains. "Unfortunately, I was spoon-fed sales pitch after sales pitch by the VoIP equipment vendors and their salespeople--Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, Mitel, NEC, and so on. I was looking for neutral, standards-respecting VoIP authority in book form, and I couldn't find it. So I decided to write it myself."
His goal with Switching to VoIP is to prepare readers to deal more confidently with vendors and implement the right VoIP solution the first time. "Though this book presents a fair amount of theory, we've gone to great lengths to keep the material as practical as possible," Wallingford says. "It's been written so that you can read a chapter, apply that chapter, and come back to learn more."
The book includes a brief introduction to traditional telecom systems, compares their features and fundamentals to IP telephony systems, and shows ways to integrate traditional telephony assets into an IP-based voice network. Switching to VoIP also describes the standards involved so readers can make educated choices about the large selection of components and vendors needed to design and implement a converged IP data and voice network with superior quality of service.
"The world of telephony is a multi-vendor domain in which interoperability is critical and failure of competing systems to work together, unlike desktop computing, is unacceptable," he insists. "This book advocates standards, not brand names."
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