About Your SIP Service Solution

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1 whitepaper 5 Key Questions to Ask About Your SIP Service Solution By Gaetan Brichet, COO, Voxbone Voxbone US LLC - San Francisco Office 535 Voxbone Mission US St San 535 Mission Francisco, St CA San Francisco, United CA States United Tel : +1 States Tel :

2 introduction introduction Moving to use SIP, as a real-time trunking and PSTN access solution, is becoming a significant part of virtually every new deployment, regardless of the service provider or location. The value of a SIP solution is multi-fold; centralization, which enables significant reductions in the number of trunks; simplicity and redundancy, which generate value in up-time and availability, and of course, an overall reduction of cost. However, moving to a SIP solution is not the same as changing to a new TDM service provider and there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account as the move is planned. The focus of this whitepaper is on five key areas that should be considered when selecting a SIP service provider and operating a SIP solution for your organization. The answer to each question is important for the overall quality of your communications services, and should be examined in detail as you consider your alternatives. Making the right choice when it comes to service provider and solutions will help to dramatically improve both the effectiveness of the overall solution, as well as the quality of experience that you provide to your users. It is also critical to examine these factors not just in terms of your immediate needs but also based on your potential future needs, including expansion plans and structural changes. While SIP vendors can be changed, it is often a challenge at both a contractual and operational level, so choosing the right service provider from the start is important.

3 1. WHAT IS THE SPEED OF INSTALLATION/CHANGE? How does the SIP service provider manage installation and change processes? Generally, there are two ways that SIP service providers function: The first option would be to add SIP onto an existing TDM infrastructure and methodology, Often, SIP solutions based on legacy telephony infrastructure and operating methodologies are also tied to legacy operational time frames and options. In this case, SIP service providers may quote weeks or months for a SIP service to be installed or changed. Alternatively, building a system designed from the ground up as a SIP solution, provides the advantage of a service that is on-demand, and can be self-managed through web interfaces that enable rapid implementation. While legacy telephony infrastructures were predominately hardware and vendor based, modern SIP architectures are predominately software based, running on generic hardware with many of the elements operating in virtualized systems, enabling rapid provisioning and operations. To understand how your potential service provider will react to your needs and change requests, test their capability to react. For your initial installation, or test installation, try out the SIP provider s operating methodology by specifying a relatively short ramp, or asking if they can meet a ramp of a few days. While it is difficult to evaluate the long-term ability of your SIP service provider to meet your change needs, this is a good test of their ability to respond. Be wary of service providers who will not respond at all or who specify traditional time frames that are often measured in weeks or even months. Ask your potential provider for reference examples of how they have reacted to time-critical needs of existing customers. If a SIP service provider can only quote delivery in weeks, or months, and cannot show clear examples of rapid reaction to customer needs, they will clearly not be ready to meet your needs. 2. HOW EXTENDED IS THE COVERAGE? Coverage is a critical aspect of any SIP solution. In the past, as the mechanisms for interacting with the PSTN were limited to physical trunks, the solution would typically only be local. However, SIP through the virtualization of both the infrastructure and numbering plans enables a solution that includes a range of connections and locations. In the case of SIP, having direct dial-in numbers covering a range of geographies is not only possible, but often comes as part of the overall solution. The coverage footprint of a service provider can be viewed in two ways: 1) SIP trunk locations, 2) access number locations. SIP trunk locations are locations where you have SIP trunks terminating on your sites or equipment. The key to Quality of Service (QoS) is having a relatively close local transition from the service provider s optimized IP network into that local environment. For example, if you have an office in Lithuania, is the SIP trunk connection to your Lithuanian office running over the open Internet from the U.S. or somewhere else? Is it traveling on a dedicated parallel IP infrastructure with high quality goals and guarantees? In other words, is the PoP close enough to the end point? By examining where a SIP service provider has its points of presence, it is possible to assure that your overall services are better managed.

4 For SIP, local presence and short final IP hops are critical for quality. Another key factor when it comes to coverage is the availability of local sales or support service numbers in a multiplicity of geographies. The benefit of SIP is that a few strategically chosen regional SIP trunks can represent your organization around the globe. To do this effectively, the SIP service provider must have a global local presence. This is critical for a variety of reasons from assuring that your organization is able to be global and act local, to reducing costs for your customers when interacting with you. While your day one deployment may be simple domestic SIP trunks, the ability to use the same infrastructure for local dial numbers or toll-free calling outside your home country, should be considered in your design to support future international expansion plans. Last but not least, taking into consideration the regulatory compliance of your service provider is key in order to guarantee longterm service availability. Due to rapidly changing technology, regulatory frameworks are under pressure to catch up with the new business models that are emerging. Therefore it is not sufficient as a service provider to only perform the initial compliance and registration checks, but it should be considered indispensable to continuously monitor changes and adapt the services to the regulatory framework. To summarize, your SIP solution provider should have a national and global footprint that enables your solution to take advantage of the virtual nature of SIP, as this may become an important part of driving future business value from your investment. 3. WHAT MANAGEMENT TOOLS ARE OFFERED? The transition from a physical TDM infrastructure to a virtualized SIP environment may be a challenge for users and providers of traditional telephony organizations. In a traditional environment, operations are limited and the management tends to focus on whether a link is up or not. In a SIP environment, there are a number of factors that make the operation much more challenging to manage. These include the underlying IP network and infrastructure, the packetized nature of VoIP traffic and corresponding QoS management, as well as the interaction of all of the operational components that can cause a variety of operational and quality issues. The management platform provided by your SIP service provider therefore becomes a critical tool as it allows you to manage the system on a daily basis. The system should provide a simple dashboard that shows your traffic, the current quality of service and any issues. This dashboard should be available to your NOC staff as well as your support team. When there are issues with voice quality, the solution should enable your team to see key performance indicators like latency and lost packets that can contribute to degradation of Mean Opinion Score (MOS). Additionally, the management platform should enable a reasonable level of flexibility, allowing the end-user organization to perform certain direct configurations. For example, the tool should allow changing the end-point of an inbound phone number from one contact center to another. The solution should also allow you to scale up the available trunk lines/ports at your location, or scale them down based on business requirements. This capability to automate and simplify management of capacity and configuration is a critical aspect of SIP and such levels of automation can often not be provided by legacy platforms.

5 4. HOW IS THE QUALITY OF SERVICE? Setting up a SIP service is relatively easy; delivering consistent quality is however much more challenging. As part of your evaluation of a SIP service provider, it is important to examine how their network is set up and operated to deliver the levels of quality that you require. One area to examine is how the service provider peers, both with IP and SIP networks. The quality of IP peering is critical, as these are the points where the quality-controlled IP backhaul of the SIP service provider interfaces with the other IP providers and the open Internet. To maximize quality, a SIP service provider should have multiple IP peering agreements, colocated at major peering points. It should also be connected to relevant IP network providers in every region. The closer the IP peer points are to the end customer s location, the better for end voice quality: The further away, the higher the probability that variability due to the Internet connection randomly impacts the quality of the SIP trunking service. By choosing from a wide range of IP peer points, a SIP service provider should be able to demonstrate that they will not put you in a situation where your traffic has to back-track or loop a serious issue that can cause extended latency and quality degradation. As part of the evaluation, ask how they will peer for SIP traffic with other providers and for IP traffic to the Internet. To have a better understanding, define some of your most complex scenarios (involving international calling or using different ISPs at different locations) and discuss how the vendor would handle traffic. While IP peering is important, SIP peering is potentially even more so, when it comes to the overall quality and experience. Implementing proper SIP peering, with landline or mobile network operators and other SIP service providers, assures that there is a minimal transcoding as well as minimal number of hops (for minimal latency). As the SIP standard does not require a specific codec or implementation, peering in a small number of locations often means that the traffic is actually going through multiple peering points on the path to the final destination. As these peering points often are implemented with transcoding to match different carrier s standards, the issue of multiple transcoding s may occur, resulting in a substantial degradation of the quality of experience. By having direct SIP (or PSTN) interconnections across the global reach, the potential of multi-hop peering is reduced. This is because the SIP service provider will directly peer into a broad range of other SIP networks (and PSTN termination networks). At this point, have the potential vendor explain how many SIP transitions a typical call that leaves their network has before arriving at the end user or enterprise equipment. Also discuss how the vendor deals with different encoding standards and transcoding in the network. Finally, no solution is better than the team behind it. Before committing to a solution, it is imperative to understand if that team has the capability to provide the 24x7 support required. In the past, TDM PSTN and trunking was often provided by large organizations that had extensive staff. Smaller providers often do not have the staff or tools to provide the levels of support that your organization requires. As part of the procurement process, it is therefore critical to examine the support infrastructure; availability of support staff, and response methodologies. As part of your initial interactions, discussing how the service provider has responded to past incidents is a good way of evaluating their methodology and systems.

6 5. HOW BROAD IS THE INTEROPERABILITY WITH THE COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT? Often when examining a SIP service provider, the only consideration is the existing SIP equipment that will be connected. While generally expeditious, an evaluation methodology based only on existing equipment may potentially become a major issue. For example, if a SIP service provider was chosen based on interoperability with a specific VoIP PBX service provider, then a subsequent addition of a different communications platform or SBC, may create challenges. While a broad interoperability list is not a guarantee of interoperability with all potential SIP equipment that an organization may acquire, it is a strong indicator of the provider s flexibility to enable new equipment of solutions elements to be deployed. Given the fast shift in business communications and UC services, having the flexibility to choose optimal solution elements and equipment without concern for interoperability is important for the organization and the IT department. The rapid changes in requirements as well as equipment make the capability to support the widest range of equipment critical. Also, a broad interoperation list shows the range of the SIP service provider s user base as well as the capability to quickly adapt to changes. The ability to rapidly react to market changes and new vendors is important for any organization looking to leverage their investment in communications and collaboration solutions and to generate strategic impact from them. SIP SIP TRUNKING TRUNKING PROVIDER: PROVIDER: Selection Selection Checklist Checklist WHAT IS THE SPEED OF INSTALLATION/CHANGE? What is the time to provision a new SIP trunk? What is the time to modify an existing SIP trunk? What is the time to add new phone numbers to a SIP trunk? What is the time to add a new telephony number in a remote international location? What is the costs for the above changes? HOW EXTENDED IS THE COVERAGE? In which countries do they provide local phone numbers? In which countries/regions do they provide SIP trunks? Where are the Points of Presence to service those regions? Where are the Points of Presence that connect to local telephone networks?

7 WHAT MANAGEMENT TOOLS ARE OFFERED? Does the provider offer web-based service management tools? Which parts of the service can be managed online? Are changes applied in real-time? Are orders of numbers, call capacity and features applied in real-time? How is provisioning managed? Does the provider give you an online dashboard to monitor the service? HOW IS THE QUALITY OF SERVICE? Where are the provider s IP peering points? Where are the provider s SIP peering points? Where are the provider s PSTN peering points? Which other IP network provider does the provider peer with? How many hops does the average IP SIP session transition? How does the provider reduce transcoding? HOW BROAD IS THE INTEROPERABILITY WITH THE COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT? Which SBC vendors does the provider interoperate with? Which telecom/uc equipment vendors does the provider interoperate with? How does the provider manage the challenges of SIP interoperability? Does the provider have a lab for interoperability testing? Gaetan Brichet is the Chief Operations Officer at Voxbone. Gaetan has more than 10 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has been with Voxbone since Prior to Voxbone, Gaetan worked as a project manager for Alcatel-Lucent and an adviser on turnaround and optimization issues at Bain & Company. He holds a master s degree in electronics engineering from the University of Liège in Belgium and an MBA from INSEAD. Gaetan Brichet, COO, Voxbone

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