Demystifying Convergence and VoIP
The new-world movement in telephony is Convergence and Voice over IP (VoIP). Convergence is simply uniting voice and data networks across a single infrastructure. A converged network eliminates the need for duplicate hardware and special vendors who manage separate voice networks, often called PBXs (private branch exchanges). VoIP (voice over IP) uses the Internet Protocol to deliver voice traffic (telephone calls) over a converged network. A major advantage of VoIP is the cost savings over time through hardware reduction and eliminating the service charges and toll costs associated with old-world telephony.
Consider the following VoIP example: The City of Dallas, Texas, replaced six separate networks with a single converged network that will deliver voice and data to almost 8,000 city employees at 281 sites across Dallas. The new network includes a cluster of Cisco CallManagers that handle all city voice calls, and promises to save the city US$21 Million over the next ten years.
"We wanted to make the City more productive and efficient by providing e-government services, which meant replacing the existing system," said Dan McFarland, CIO, City of Dallas. "We decided on a state-of-the-art system, which meant Voice over IP." McFarland estimated the city will save up to $500,000 annually on software and another $100,000 to $200,000 in training costs. He said the city spends almost $300,000 per year in administrative costs related solely to adding, removing and changing telephone extensions. Almost all of those costs will be eliminated with the new system, he said.
Cisco Systems provides a VoIP solution called Cisco IP Telephony, based on Cisco AVVID (architecture for voice, video and integrated data). Cisco IP Telephony allows you to converge your voice and data traffic on a single network, thereby eliminating costly contracts from phone vendors, consolidating hardware needs, and leveraging the voice-enabled network for toll-free calls across the companyís LAN and WAN. Cisco CallManager is the core component of Cisco AVVID IP Telephony.