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Survey Results - Top VoIP Features

Survey Review: What VoIP Buyers are Looking For

Back in March, I wrote about enterprises moving their VoIP communication systems to the cloud and why it is more complex than simply putting a credit card number on a website. In that post, I referred to what Don Sadler from Software Advice wrote about 3 Ways to Keep Your VoIP Service From Going Down With the Internet.

The guys from Software Advice were kind enough to send me the results of their latest survey – Small Business Buyer View 2014 and I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the results with our readers.

Survey Key Takeaways

There are several findings in the survey I find interesting. Let’s go over them one by one.

More than half of prospective buyers were investing in business VoIP service for the first time.

Most of us, techy, VoIP savvy people, tend to believe VoIP is common in most businesses. I mean technology is around for over a decade now. How much time do those SMBs need to get going? For many of us, VoIP as we know it is old school; we are looking today at more advanced variations of VoIP like WebRTC that bring VoIP to the browser.

The reality is that most SMBs are not connected to VoIP services. Itzik Feiglevitch from AudioCodes presents more information about this in a diagram based on an analysis he has done.

Worldwide-SMBs-connected-to-VoIP-Services

The answers received in the survey fall nicely within the general point of this diagram – there is still a large market of SMBs out there that haven’t yet made the shift to VoIP.

Buyers were primarily concerned with reliability and scalability when evaluating new phone systems

Scalability is one of the advantages of going cloud but moving VoIP communication to the cloud doesn’t really increase reliability. There is the reliability of the servers themselves that typically improves because a VoIP communications cloud provider would normally have a stronger team of IT expertise that make sure the service is always on. However, having all the traffic go up to the cloud and back and the dependency on the link to be always on remains a challenge.

As explained before in my post All You Need is Cloud, the on-premise SBC would help mitigating this challenge by providing resiliency, optimized call routing, call cost optimization and QoE.

No buyers were interested in an on-premise IP-PBX, while a vast majority wanted a hosted solution

This is a clear trend we see across all businesses of different sizes and for different services – shift to SW solutions and cloud services. Having said that, concerns raised in the previous point must be addressed.

77% of SMBs are looking for services in the browser

Another interesting point that was not part of the “key Findings” presented at the top of the survey but did draw my attention, is the requirement for Web based solutions.

Many SMBs are probably not even aware yet of WebRTC but they are experiencing more and more services that are provided in their browser. Seeing that 77% actually preferred VoIP in their browser is an interesting indication for the potential of WebRTC in the UC for SMB space.

Survey Results - VoIP Deployment Preferences

Auto Attendant Tops the List of Desired Applications

The survey was seeking to learn the most important features buyers have on their decision checklist. The diagram below shows that Auto Attendant is well positioned on this list.

Survey Results - Top VoIP Features

Auto attendant is the way to navigate through a company’s directory instead of speaking with a real person who would transfer the call.

What if you could just say the name of that person, or what if employees could dial to anyone on their contact list, company list of suppliers and customers by just saying their name?

Based on AudioCodes advanced voice recognition technology, we provide this service today in the cloud, connecting to any PBX or hosted VoIP system.

Why is this survey important?

Understanding the criteria based on which SMBs make their buying choices is important. It reassures us about the “move to the cloud” trend but also clarifies the need to continue and provide reliability in the process.

Redundancy & High Availability

High Availability Redundancy for All

[Post is better viewed on the blog Website]

The Need for High Availability

The need for businesses to remain on-line at all times, if the connection to the service provider or on premise equipment should go down, is a critical one. And it is critical for all businesses, large and small alike.

In VoIP networking, the ability to always keep the network up and running is called High Availability (HA) and it can mean several things. For one, it means survivability. If the WAN connection (SIP trunk) to the service provider goes down, the customer needs a “Plan B”.  This is typically accomplished with a Session Border Controller (SBC) deployed at the enterprise, playing an important role in continued phone connectivity and routing at the customer site. It also can mean resilience. Here, the calls at the customer will find their way out of the local site to their destinations via alternative channels. This can be via PSTN fall-back, via GSM connection or even via a connection to a back-up second SIP trunk.

Redundancy & High AvailabilityAnd then there is redundancy where fully redundant networking infrastructure is used, eliminating single point of failure risks. With VoIP networking this would mean there are two SBCs deployed in an active/standby configuration. In normal operations, the first SBC does everything while the standby SBC is only synched with the first one. However, if for whatever reason the first SBC goes down, the second one takes over and all the active calls now go through it, ensuring that no active calls are dropped. User registration is synched between the two devices and a transfer to the standby SBC, seamless to both the network and to the users, occurs.

Increase in HA Demand for Medium to Small Businesses

Survivability and resiliency tend to be features provided in networks of all sizes. However, redundancy, for many vendors, seems to be reserved for only the larger carrier and enterprise networks, those with over 600 sessions. To handle requirements for High Availability redundancy for small to medium businesses some SBC vendors offer their customers over-sized carrier-class SBCs. This mismatch forces customers to deploy SBCs which don’t fit neatly into the enterprise environment, as they are more expensive, have unnecessary features on the one hand and may be missing other features necessary for this environment on the other.  (We call this “Going duck hunting with a Howitzer” – overly complex and in the end, not very effective).

At AudioCodes, we have witnessed a sharp increase in demand for High Availability Redundancy in small to medium businesses.  Perhaps these businesses have reached the conclusion that even in these smaller business environments they simply can’t take the risk that something will take down their network. AudioCodes has moved to satisfy this demand from the smaller businesses by installing High Availability redundancy in the Company’s Mediant 500 and 800 SBCs in addition to the higher-session SBCs.

(BTW: no ducks were harmed in the writing of this article)

Image: Collaborating with Lync and AudioCodes One Voice for Lync

Lync Rocks for Collaboration

[This is the first post in our Lync Migration series of posts]

I come from the video communications market, video is my bread and butter, my default for any business or personal communication. Sometimes I forget that not everyone sees the world of communication as I do. To many, communication is a phone call.

In my previous life working for a video company (Radvision), meetings using video were conducted using our own dog food. Lync was installed and used mainly on PCs for IM, and when we wanted to get “real”, we switched to our personal video VC-240 computer screens, a product we developed with Samsung in a partnership I led back in 2009.

Coming over to AudioCodes exposed me to a new world of Lync and integration of Lync with other enterprise telephony systems. It’s not that I didn’t experience Lync collaboration and dual ringing in the past, it is that at this company, this integration is at its best, bringing collaboration to new heights.

AudioCodes puts significant focus on products for Lync deployments through its One Voice for Lync solution offering. The solution includes products that make migration to Lync easy and at the pace the customer choses – gradual user, branch and systems migration, etc. At AudioCodes, we eat our own dog food and use Lync and AudioCodes systems regularly.

This full integration means that I can see, on my AudioCodes HW IP Phone, the Lync status of my colleagues, I can pick-up a call on the IP Phone or on the Lync application and perform different actions from both systems (phone or application). Additionally, I can connect PSTN and SIP Trunks traffic to the Lync network. Naturally I can IM, video call, collaborate and share documents on Lync as well.

Collaborating to Launch This Blog

Image: Collaborating with Lync and AudioCodes One Voice for Lync

As part of the work for launching this blog I had to speak with many people, some not located in our offices in Israel. Video calling via Lync and collaboration were key tools for keeping the work going and being

productive. As a user, it seems natural that you can now see the presence status of people directly from the email they sent you and start a collaboration session in one click. To the user, the platform the remote user is using (Lync, Enterprise PBX, Mobile, PSTN) is completely transparent.

The reality behind the scenes is not so simple on both the technical and business sides of things. Companies don’t tend to go for a forklift migration but rather a gradual one that also preserves previous investments as much as possible. As such, there needs to be a choice between hosted and on-premise deployment, or maybe a hybrid type of deployment with resiliency achieved by deploying an on-premise cloud appliance. This is just a short and non-exhaustive list of things to consider.  On this blog we will start a series of posts that cover topics related to migration to Lync. You can view it as a kind of a guide to the perplexed.

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