SIP Trunking and Unified Communications

Posted on: 2016-08-10 | Categories: SIP

Unified communications is the latest buzzword doing the rounds in the VoIP industry. With thousands of businesses yet to upgrade to VoIP – whether with hosted or on premise SIP trunking deployments – there is plenty of growth still left in the sector. However vendors are already looking to upsell clients on unified communication suites.

What Is Unified Communications?

At this point many people are familiar with SIP, VoIP, PBX and many other acronyms associated with enterprise phone systems. However unlike SIP, UC or Unified Communications is not actually a protocol, format, standard or even a single product. Unified Communication is simply a name given to the whole bunch of related software and technologies that operate as a unified platform to support various channels and media including voice, video, presence, messaging etc.

The Relationship between SIP Trunking and Unified Communications

SIP trunking and unified communication technologies are not competitors, instead SIP trunks enable UC suites to function on top of them. Unlike SIP, competing UC suites from different vendors need not be interoperable even though they are all built on the standard SIP protocol. This lack of standardization makes it difficult for clients to compare the offerings from various providers, especially in a market that is still in the early stages.

Getting started with unified communication suites can be time-consuming and resource intensive, depending on the level of complexity and features required. For the most part, businesses are advised not to jump into UC straightaway. Most organizations tend to adopt hosted VoIP or SIP trunking first to get used to them and only then decide to upgrade to unified communication platforms. What makes SIP trunks especially suited for unified communication is that they are already configured to work with text, images, voice and video.

The Goal of Unified Communication

Business communication is often classified into two types: synchronous and asynchronous. The former is also called real-time communication and includes voice and video calling, instant messaging etc. Asynchronous communication on the other hand involves a time lag and good examples include social media posts, email, forums etc. Although it is possible to get instant replies, it is usually meant for noncritical communication.

Unified Communication platforms generally aim to integrate both these types of communication channels so that the end user can use any tool at any time to contact someone. They should not have to think about the time of day, the type of device they have or where they are located before sending a message.

Thus unified communication can be useful for organizations with nontraditional workplace arrangements i.e. employees who telecommute, work remotely for teams that need to collaborate with people on the other side of the globe. While such organizations were a rarity in the past, more companies are choosing to operate in this manner increasing the demand for UC software.

How Can SIP Trunks Help with Unified Communication Deployments?

When an organization deploys SIP trunking in its various locations, it forms a solid foundation for UC suites later on. Adding certain UC elements need not disrupt workflows or decrease productivity since employees are already used to working with VoIP and all the other features on offer. Even before the UC project is implemented, users may be familiar with certain parts of collaborative tools that make their way into the final platform.

For instance, an organization may already be using a messaging client for business communication. With the upgrade to UC, the messaging client may become a one stop tool for text messaging, click to talk or click to video call functionality. This means users do not have to switch between different devices or software in order to communicate with internal or external partners may be located anywhere in the world.

If an organization has not already adopted SIP trunking, it becomes difficult to deploy UC. This is because all the infrastructure has to be purchased and implemented at the same time. Many organizations opt for UC deployment over the course of many months or even years. This is not a process that can happen overnight or be accomplished without a certain level of financial investment. A company that has been extensively using SIP trunks for a few years is better poised to take advantage of UC than one that is starting from scratch.