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john_dix
Editor in Chief

RFI for IP PBX vendor showdown

Opinion
Aug 23, 20043 mins
Cisco SystemsNetworking

At VON this fall in Boston we are going to change the approach a bit to stir things up. Instead of our usual presidential-style debate, we are inviting six vendors to come prepared to discuss a request for information and why their offering is better than those proposed by their brethren.

The Voice on the Net show is always a good place to call IP PBX players on the carpet to challenge their marketing claims and get them to try to spell out how they are different.

We’ve hosted four Network World Showdowns at VON over the years, examining everything from basic IP PBX architectures to the question of whether IP Centrex is a meaningful alternative to rolling your own.

At VON this fall in Boston we are going to change the approach a bit to stir things up. Instead of our usual presidential-style debate, we are inviting six vendors to come prepared to discuss a request for information (RFI) and why their offering is better than those proposed by their brethren.

The vendors invited: Avaya, Cisco, Lucent, Mitel, Nortel and 3Com (please confirm by Sept. 27). While most of these companies are prominent in the VoIP world, why Lucent? The company recently re-entered the enterprise VoIP market by combining some of its own technology with that of OEMs, and as a $8.5 billion communications giant, we need to know if it is going to be a player.

They will discuss an RFI for a hypothetical company with a New York headquarters with 400 stations and five T-1 trunks; a branch office in Hoboken, N.J., with 10 stations, five analog lines and T-1 access; and a branch office in Bakersfield, Calif., with 10 stations, five analog lines and DSL.

While the company wants to know how much it will cost for a VoIP solution, it is primarily interested in what productivity gains it can expect and how the system will support emerging technologies such as Wi-Fi phones and the ability to detect and take advantage of presence.

Each vendor will be given 5 minutes to walk us through an architectural slide and a benefits slide, and then will field 5 minutes of questions from yours truly and Carl Ford, a long-time industry veteran and VON’s vice president of community development.

We also will ask one vendor to chime in on each review, with the sequence for that picked in a random draw before the event starts.

While that will eat up the bulk of our allotted time, each vendor also should come prepared with a question for one of the other players for a rapid-fire give-and-take at the end of the session. If time permits, we also will throw it open to questions from the audience.

So please join us Wednesday, Oct. 20, from 2:45 to 4 p.m. at the Fall 2004 VON Conference & Expo at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.