As the market for VoIP technology continues to boom, partners are finding that the commercial market may be outpacing the enterprise in its ability to provide ready-made sales opportunities.
“In the commercial space, folks are buying today; in the enterprise, most folks are just preparing to buy,” says Dave Woodward, vice president of sales for Calence, a networking solution provider in Tempe, Ariz. “If [enterprise customers] are doing a core network refresh, they want to put themselves in a position to build the network right for IP telephony down the road. If you’re planning to implement VoIP in 18-24 months, you’ll want to have the framework in place.”
This isn’t to say that there are fewer sales opportunities in the enterprise; just that they may be longer in coming to fruition. But the VoIP market still is taking off across the board. Last week, market researcher In-Stat released a report that said as VoIP functionality is integrated into Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), such as modems, routers and residential gateways, the overall market for VoIP integrated circuits (ICs) will grow from $208.7 million in 2004 to $1.3 billion in 2009, with wireless handsets becoming an eventual key market.
The report did find that VoIP IC revenue on the infrastructure side is growing more slowly than other segments because of price pressures from the service-provider level down through VoIP equipment and silicon providers.
Calence partners with Cisco on VoIP installations, but Woodward acknowledges that there is plenty of room for vendors to improve on their VoIP offerings.
“There are a ton of really good point solutions out there, but no one has a really good end-to-end story, including Cisco,” Woodward says. “Typically, Cisco acquires a smaller vendor that’s No. 1 or 2 in its space and integrates the company into its portfolio. Cisco is the best vendor at doing that, but everything doesn’t always align perfectly.”
One way some VoIP vendors come up short is on security.
“The idea that VoIP is just packets is a bunch of baloney,” says Phil O’Reilly, CEO of Solunet, a solution provider in Melbourne, Fla. “You can’t just sell a VoIP-switching environment; you also have to sell traffic-management and security solutions around it. If you believe VoIP is an up-and-coming technology, these things go hand in hand.” But the ability to secure VoIP all ready is superior to the old way of doing things, and that’s one strong angle partners can take when pitching the new systems.
“A lot of folks are afraid of security issues with their voice lines because of the new compliance requirements, because they’ve had an attack on their networks, or they’ve just read about other attacks,” Woodward says. “Security functionality just isn’t available in the old PBXs, so they need a network refresh.”