Core business apps moving to IP networks

One sweet spot that is outstripping expectations in the Australian enterprise market is the deployment of IP networks and applications, particularly the use of IP VPNs to provide access to core accounting, financial and CRM apps.

The use of IP VPNs to connect to customers has grown 46 percent instead of the predicted 19 percent in 2004, according to the third annual Optus IP Index which surveys 74 of the telco's corporate and government customers.

An estimated 94 percent of IP VPNs provide access to accounting and financial applications compared to 72 percent in 2003 with 62 percent providing access to CRM apps compared to only 33 percent in 2003.

More organizations are connecting external stakeholders to their networks and the use of extranets is expected to grow at unprecedented levels to connect with partners, customers and suppliers.

Four out of five of respondents surveyed no longer regard business-grade voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as an immature technology. When asked to identify the barriers to deploying IP-based telephony, 60 percent of respondents said it simply wasn't a priority.

Federal Court of Australia corporate services executive director Gordon Foster is a typical example pointing out that the technology is sound but "our attention is elsewhere and we are not looking at it" as there are no plans to review infrastructure.

However, 50 percent did express concern about abandoning investment in legacy systems and another 48 percent were concerned about the cost of deployment.

The Optus IP Index said organizations are taking a staged approach to the implementation of IP telephony although half of respondents had deployed a full IP telephony solution with a PSTN gateway while other respondents had deployed a VoIP solution supporting IP telephony only over existing LAN/WAN connections.

NSW Office of the Board of Studies IT chief systems officer Mark Coleman said he was preparing to undertake a full VoIP deployment across the organization early next year.

Coleman said the main drivers behind the project were cost savings, particularly for videoconferencing, and extra functionality.

The project is being held off until early next year, he said, only because the busiest time of the year for the board is between now and December when Higher School Certificate results are released.

Wireless applications were deployed by 46 percent of respondents up from 25 percent in 2003 and Australian companies have high expectations for smart phones (a converged, voice-and-data handheld device).

The Optus IP Index said 12 percent of respondents are deploying smart phones in 2004 with a further 31 percent planning to deploy smart phones in 2005.

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