VoIP and IP PBX, More Than “Messaging” Being Unified

What does that mean? At first, it might not be clear – but read on …..

Not long ago I remember two industries that seemed closely related, yet probably couldn’t be further apart. I’m talking about the IT and Telecommunications industries. IT and Telco VAR’s (Value Added Resellers) speak a completely different language, and when having them in the same room at the same time you’d swear they weren’t even from the same planet, let alone the same city. Even for us at Deerfield.com (a company that is IT self sufficient), we would quickly find ourselves helpless when it came to maintaining our corporate phone system. We’d be cruising along, feeling pretty good about ourselves and our technical ability … and then, uh oh, a problem with the mysterious black box in the server room!

Prior to running 3CX – we were running a Nortel Norstar Meridian (here in the states considered a top-line system), and a problem with this system involved calling the local Telco (GTE, now Verizon) and requesting they dispatch a technician “Lineman” to our location. Upon arrival, you could tell immediately that he or she wasn’t from around here because the first thing that you noticed is that they were wearing a tool belt, which usually wasn’t doing a very good job of holding up their trousers (if you know what I mean). Briskly, they would be dispatched to the server room (data center) with one of our data techs (no tool belt, but donning an aptly filled pocket protector) where they would engage in non-sensical conversation laced with industry acronyms that neither side understood. Somehow though, through some fuzzy magic the problems would eventually get resolved in a way that no one could explain to one another, and off we’d go until the next problem/crisis.

Clearly, until the advent of IP PBX’s like 3CX these two industries were completely stratified. You wouldn’t dream of buying a phone system from an IT VAR, nor would you look to the local Telco to provide you with Computers, Networks, and Enterprise applications. VoIP seems to be changing all of that, fairly rapidly. I find it interesting that the 3CX channel partners so far are a nice mix of Telecoms and IT VAR’s.

For the first time in my career, I see these two industries coming together to serve a bigger purpose. Since VoIP and IP PBX’s are based on the IP suite of protocols – it is now as important to understand TCP/IP Internetworking and security, as it is to understand Telephony. IT VAR’s are learning the Telephony side and Telco VAR’s are learning the IP networking side, in a sense “unifying” the telecommunications industry. The good news is that as much as the SIP protocol is the emerging standard in IP PBX’s, it is morphing the IT and Telco VAR’s to start speaking the same language.

What’s further propagating this melding into a single industry is the demand for integration of the corporate phone system into the corporate back-end applications, such as MS Exchange and other CRM packages. The SMB Telecom VAR’s of yesterday had almost no interaction with the SMB’s back-end applications, whereby today it is becoming increasingly necessary to integrate them.

I think there are still going to be some growing pains, but at the end of the day – the end-user customer will win out as the IT and Telecom industries converge. 3CX customers will have a wider variety of choices when selecting the VAR that will best meet their phone system needs.

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