Steve Parrott made lots of good points in his blog entry about the VoIP-is-Dead Debate, but I’d like to focus on one comment in Om Malik’s original GigaOM posting quoting Alec Saunders on VoIP. Saunders characterized VoIP this way: “Voice over IP is just a transport and signaling technology. It’s plumbing.”
While we understand the point Alec was trying to make, we have to disagree. If anything, VoIP as an application is the “liquid” that moves through the IP plumbing. But then, the other applications that Parrott talked about, such as conferencing and collaboration, unified messaging, location-based services, and instant messaging, are also liquids that the plumbing enables as much as it transports.
While the concept of carrier networks as dumb pipes may have had some validity in the past, in the IP-centric world, it’s far from true. There is so much intelligence inherent in the IP network that the plumbing comparison barely holds up anymore. If your household plumbing had the capability to reroute itself around (and repair) leaks, dynamically adjust flows, and instantly add pipes to any needed location, then maybe it would be a fair metaphor.
We’re in an age where networks have to be highly intelligent, because the applications themselves demand it. We consistently hear from our customers, who want to know how best to maximize the effectiveness of their specific applications over the new generation networks. Even voice, in instances such as wireless-wireline convergence, for example, needs the foundation of a smart, IP-based network to deliver on its convergence promise.
If you have missed out on all the VoIP dead or alive rhetoric, catch up by reading these blogs.
Obviously VoIP is Alive and Well; Those with VoIP’s blood on their hands;
Speaking the Unspeakable – VoIP; VoIP is NOT Dead!; VoIP Out for 2009; Jon Arnold Proclaims VoIP is Not Dead; VoIP in 2008 – “I’m not Dead”