By rail or road: different ways to see SIP

Don’t settle for a one-size-fits all deployment. The session initiation protocol offers alternative paths for data to travel

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Dave Stein believes network technology should carry data swiftly, securely and flexibly. In a recent webinar about SIP and unified communications as a service (UCaaS), the principal of Stein Technology Consulting outlined three potential architectures for SIP deployment. Read a certain way, the options he described are akin to the choices people make when it comes to getting around in the real world: public transit, private vehicle and, with a nod to VRTUCAR and other car-rental subscription services, vehicle sharing.

1. On the rails

Traditionally, businesses have used the centralized model for SIP deployment. Like a train pulling in to a stop on the line, SIP trunks terminate in the customer’s data centre. From that station, the connections branch out via multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) or an alternative technology to serve the client’s locations. Stein said this setup is simple and straightforward—but it’s not necessarily the best system for everyone.

2. On-ramp to connectivity

Another approach gaining traction sees SIP trunks established for each individual business location. Picture a road network with various paths for voice and data traffic. “There are reasons to do this as well,” Stein said. The option is not particularly complicated, for one. And in certain situations, it alleviates worries about a single point of failure in the communications system. “I do have some clients who are a bit nervous about putting all their eggs in one basket in the centralized model.”

3. VRTUCAR for your network

Why not borrow your connectivity? Like a network-technology car-sharing system, the pooled model provides each of a business’s sites with a certain number of SIP sessions. If one location needs more, it dips into the other sites’ unused resources. “This is a major differentiator between carriers and what they offer,” Stein said. Not all service providers offer the pooled option, so if you like it, you have a relatively short list of carriers to choose from (hint: Allstream!).

Stein also discussed the link between SIP and UCaaS, noting that the association between the protocol and hosted unified communications may be stronger than many people think. Whereas SIP is usually considered ideal for on-premise UC deployments, savvy network managers are beginning to view SIP as effective for hosted UC services, too. “Over the last year, we’ve seen a number of announcements in the industry where vendors are tying both [SIP and UCaaS] together,” Stein said. Companies use the protocol and the platform side by side to create hybrid on-premise/cloud systems wherein branch locations use UCaaS and headquarters get the on-premise treatment.

All of the above shows SIP as flexible—and companies may discover yet more new ways to leverage the technology. So if you’re still waiting for the right SIP architecture for your situation, don’t worry. Chances are, that train will arrive soon.

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