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Hedging your VoIP bet

CIOs and IT managers like to "future-proof" their new purchases so they won't run into surprises several years down the track. A hybrid VoIP system could be just the ticket.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor
commentary Despite the hype factor, not every Australian enterprise is keen to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony in the near term.
Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia
Some simply don't need the additional functionality, and potential cost savings have become less attractive due to ongoing price cuts from telcos.

However, it's a well known fact that CIOs and IT managers like to "future-proof" their new purchases so they won't run into surprises several years down the track.

Hence the attractiveness of "hybrid" telephony solutions, which can be easily upgraded to deal with future migrations to VoIP.

Even early VoIP adopters can been seduced by the hybrid mindset. St George Bank is one example to surface last week.

Despite an extensive use of Avaya-branded IP telephony in its corporate offices, the bank opted for a hybrid solution from Panasonic for some 265 of its retail branches.

St George chief manager of IT Network Services Paul Bristow told your writer an upgrade to IP telephony would require a lot of "homework and preparation", but could be done in a cost-effective way if the bank decided to go down that track.

The local arm of mining machinery group Joy Global is another Australian organisation to recently implement a hybrid solution for its six locations around Australia.

Joy's IT shared service manager Frank Raczka told your writer his data network wasn't quite ready to handle VoIP, but future-proofing was important.

"We've got the possibility that our overseas branches will go down the same path -- we've got a global private network -- and then that opens up the possibility that we can have a global VoIP network," he said.

What the hybrid choice represents for both companies is the need to balance future technology needs with current IT priorities.

It is a valid option based on pragmatism rather than the irrational desire to simply outfit organisations with the latest and greatest technology.

What do you think of hybrid VoIP telephony solutions? Are they a viable option or the easy way out of preparing for a full VoIP future? Drop me a line at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post your feedback below.

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