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The More Things Change…

Developed in the 1960s, there are still some old AT&T “Centrex” lines in use. Centrex lines are a direct connection to the AT&T “Central Office” through an individual phone and phone line that provides “PBX” functionalities such as call forwarding, hunt groups and three-way conferencing. These have been replaced over time with “premise” based PBX phone systems using “PRIs” that allow access to the Public Switched Telephone Network with greater flexibility and lower cost. Instead of paying per line, businesses instead pay a small amount for Direct Inward Dial numbers that reside on their PBX and use the PRI to access the PSTN. Got it?

 

Substitute “SIP” for Centrex, “Cloud” for Central Office and make it 2014 and you now have “Hosted” VoIP. SIP technology allows voice to use the internet rather than “plain old telephone lines”. Hosted voice vendors place their PBX servers in data centers and advertisements on web pages. There are a number of additional features available with VoIP such as mobility and voicemail to email that can greatly improve business efficiencies. Like Centrex lines, businesses can use individual (SIP based) phones and pay a monthly fee per user.

 

VoIP can also be PBX “premise” based. The appliance or server takes the place of a traditional PBX and is assigned an “IP address” on the local area network. It can use both the PSTN and the internet to make and receive calls and provide the added benefits of VoIP Unified Communication features. This is generally a less costly option than hosted and can provide a higher level of reliability, depending on the needs of the business.

 

Businesses need to communicate with their customers and vendors in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. There is a choice of technologies available to accomplish that. Choosing the right solution is critical and can be made easier with proper research as well as partnering with a Value Added Reseller that is well established and offers a variety of products and services, and can provide strong local references for those products and services.

Here It Comes Again

I was thinking back to the philosophical conversation I had not too long ago with friends about sacrificing quality for convenience, example not-so-smart-phones. Nothing hit that point home quite like the prospect of an upcoming move of a spinet piano with me. It has been in place for more than a decade, and since then there are now keyboards that come very close in sound and fit under my arm.

So, I played it to help me decide. A hundred bucks to have it tuned. A hundred bucks for pizza and beer to have it moved. And so on. Still, I do wish through the years I hadn’t gotten rid of some nice keyboards that I’ve owned. Perhaps I just have this Norman Rockwell vision of someday singing carols at Christmas.

Whatever the case, it is indeed an amazing time to be alive to have choices like this. Those exponential factors we were promised are here. Pretty much anything you would ever want to know and then some is at your fingertips, including how to play piano. Collaboration of ideas has never been easier. Communication is increasing.

As in every era, change is a constant. Change is exciting, it is fun. Those who can adapt will succeed, those who can adopt will exceed. There is plenty of opportunity. I am, however, keeping the piano. Jingle Bells, anyone?

Life on the Edge

One of the coolest (technical term) trends in IT these days is edge products and services. More commonly referred to as distributed architecture; it allows information to pass along the periphery of a network without first retuning to a “home base”.  I have also heard it called “mesh”. Nice!

ShoreTel founder Ed Basart was working in distributed architecture at HP nearly 20 years ago when a new phone was set on his desk. He looked at it and knew he could do better. Now, with ShoreTel, corporate multi-site locations are making VoIP calls to each other without ever sending data to a main server. This unified database maximizes availability and makes managing an enterprise phone system quick and easy.

Wireless Access Points are becoming more and more common as tablets and ”bring your own” devices proliferate. Adtran, a leader in business grade telecommunication switches, hopes to increase business through the acquisition of Bluesocket, a maker of “virtual” WAPs (wireless access points). Simply stated, no data going back to and then out from a central location.

Video is a bandwidth hog. So LifeSize HD videoconferencing has made their video center virtual as well. The main library sends files to outlying areas to then be distributed to area users. This greatly reduces network traffic and improves efficiency.

So the web we weave becomes more interconnected and our upload speed increases! Life on the edge is good.