A VoIP and convergence history lesson, part two

In part one of this history lesson, we noted that by “Y2K”, VoIP was alive and well in the long distance carrier market, beginning its journey into replacing legacy PBX voice systems with an IP-PBX. Supplemented by Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), the IP PBX brought new capabilities to enterprise voice services including features such as the ability to integrate directories, softphones, and presence management.

The session border controller (SBC) was born, initially to offer voice carriers a meet point for VoIP calls as a means to set up and tear down calls. The SBC soon evolved into a gateway device to allow interoperability between calls that used different signaling protocols that included SIP, H.323, and MGCP. SBCs eventually added performance monitoring and management, also helping to solve VoIP security concerns with techniques such as stateful packet inspection. As enterprises added IP communications systems, the SBC found its way into corporate networks as a useful interface between the enterprise and carrier VoIP and IP networks.

By 2006, unified messaging and unified communications were being incorporated into IP telephony and VoIP systems. Premise-based IP telephony (IPT) systems were starting to be used by call centers.  The contact center market drove IPT system providers to integrate mission-critical contact center applications.

By 2010, more advanced enterprise features built on integrated data “collaboration” services were being bundled with UC, leading to a wide variety of UC&C (unified communications and collaboration) feature options.

IP-based video systems and services emerged in a variety of forms, including high end room-systems that provided an immersive experience down to more economical choices that used a cloud-based video router / bridge / switch. OTT video services also began to find their way into corporate services as a more cost-effective alternative to premise-based telepresence systems.

Competitive providers such as cable operators (who used VoIP to part of a consumer “triple play”), and over the top (OTT) voice providers were reshaping the traditional voice market-- offering fully featured voice services that relied on carrier-grade VoIP platforms.

We’ll continue this narrative in our next edition as we wind down our Network World blog at the end of this month.

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