Sunday, October 5, 2008

Telephonation for a nascent telephony

Captain Harry Brelsford steering the Telephonation ship

So many of you may be wondering what is this strange thing called VoIP? It's pronounced VOYP and like orange and purple I have yet to find a rhyme for it in English. VoIP stands for "voice over IP" (as in Internet Protocol) and it is a technology in which the Internet is married to present phone technology to permit transmission of telephony over the Internet. It is an opportunity to add voice to the computing mix and has limitless possibilities for businesses who look to save on the cost of existing phone lines by replacing them with individual IP phones. These IP phones have been making great incursions into the marketplace and for small and medium businesses in the Enterprise looking to replace outdated systems VoIP is a prime consideration. Because of its many features like integrated voice and e-mails and the fact that most businesses now maintain "fat pipes to the cloud" (high speed Internet access), VoIP is fast becoming one of the greatest cost-saving measures to be implemented over a local area network. At SMB Nation, CEO Harry Brelsford just announced the launch of Telephonation. With Microsoft's Response Point coming on strong now, VoIP technology is becoming a viable option even for the small business owner who needs to put in a simple telephone system. Imagine saving on the cost of inside wiring and renting phone systems from typical vendors like AT&T or cable systems. No longer does a business owner have to pay a substantially higher cost for phones or deal with mediocre bandwidth utilization. It may surprise some to learn that the largest number of vendors appearing at SMB Nation this year are voice sponsors. VoIP solutions have been available for a number of years from vendors like Cisco, but business owners were not endeared to the high cost of licenses per seat that could send the cost well over $300 per phone. At that rate, AT&T and cable seemed reasonable. However, as more players have jumped into the telephony game, costs and licensing have come spiraling downward. It now makes sense to examine the IP phone as a cost-effective business solution. With SMB Nation CEO Harry Brelsford taking the wheel of the Telephonation ship, will VoIP steer into clear waters or is the channel already too crowded with other worthy vessels? Only time and a steady hand at the tiller will tell.

Experts SBS Diva Susan Bradley and the legendary Ofer Shimrat

Yesterday's general session with SBS Diva Susan Bradley and Ofer Shimrat on the "gotchas" associated with implementing Windows SBS 2008 was a perfect wedding of the best of practices for software (from Bradley) and for hardware (from Shimrat). Bradley's SBS Diva blog has been a font of extremely useful information, while Shimrat has long cultivated a reputation as a master of building well-designed hardware solutions. While the two of them offer very high levels of knowledge about SBS 2003 R2 (not shipping from Microsoft as of October 1), there were a number of questions about implementing SBS 2008 that gave these two experts much to consider. Bradley and Shimrat both pointed to huge memory utilization by the OS that required a minimum of 4GB of RAM to adequately allow the server to idle properly. Microsoft officials in fairly small numbers at this year's SMB Nation (as opposed to previous years when the event was held in Redmond) might well have cringed over many of the problems they both saw with the long awaited OS in addition to migration guru Jeff Middleton's alarming notes on migration paths and potential pitfalls in an earlier morning session. Then again, there was the quote from a Microsoft worker in the convention hall who said yesterday "I'm from Microsoft. I'm here to help." Makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.

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