Migrating to SIP? Avoid these networking ‘gotchas’

Making the move from traditional connection technologies to the session initiation protocol can be challenging. Learn how to avoid three important pitfalls along your SIP journey.

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Considering the myriad benefits of the session initiation protocol (SIP) — everything from lower costs to enhanced security and increased reliability — any shift to SIP seems a no-brainer. But it isn’t.

As with all business decisions, you need to know what you’re getting into. Otherwise, you could face a number of difficulties that might stymie an otherwise smooth implementation.

Recently, Cindy Whelan, principal analyst of business network and wholesale services at IT consultancy Current Analysis, participated in an Enterprise Connect webinar on this very topic: Get SIP Smart: How to Avoid the Top SIP Trunking Gotchas. It’s worth a listen for anyone involved in making the big decision about SIP migration.

What follows summarizes what we felt were the most important gotchas: an undeveloped SIP business case, lack of network-model knowledge and insufficient preparation for potential number porting problems.

Get on your business case

Whelan says it simply: you need to know your business case. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all scheme for transitioning to SIP. The solution and service mix has to be customized and tailored to meet the needs of each enterprise location.”

Decide why SIP matters to you. Is it a way to reduce your phone-call costs? Maybe you need to make more efficient use of your network infrastructure. Or perhaps you aim to support your organization’s ongoing migration to full-fledged unified communications. Once you understand your organization’s business case, you’ll have an easier time establishing what you need from a SIP provider.

Not sure where to begin? Download Allstream’s Complete Buyer’s Guide to SIP Trunking for advice.

Model behaviour

Much as your company’s SIP business case may differ from others, your SIP deployment model could stand apart as well. Compare the relatively simple and inexpensive centralized model with the more complex yet flexible decentralized concept. Consider the hybrid idea, which uses both centralized and decentralized concepts.

Talk with SIP providers about your requirements. Carriers should be able to offer recommendations to help you choose the best architecture.

And have a look at our earlier post on this matter: a comparison of centralized and decentralized SIP deployments, as well as a brief explanation of trunk pooling.

Catching dropped digits

Whelan also discussed certain tactical aspects of SIP deployment. One notable gotcha in that camp: number-porting problems. Sometimes in the move from one service provider to another, an organization’s phone numbers don’t make the transition. The result: no phone service for some users.

Whelan recommends finding out what the SIP carrier’s process is for porting numbers and the plan for recovering them. Also, be sure to document all the numbers being moved so you know what’s supposed to come along for the ride.

With careful attention to tactical concerns such as number porting and the more strategic aspects of the network model and business case, you’ll stand a much better chance of implementing SIP successfully — which, of course, beats getting gotcha’d.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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