IBM does VoIP, finally

Citing demonstrable cost savings and improved efficiencies, IBM on Wednesday announced it has begun offering a full set of services for migrating separate enterprise voice and data networks to a single IP- based network.

According to Yves Lozach, director of IBM's network services, the market for VoIP (Voice over IP) and converged networks is finally positioned for rapid growth after years of hype.

Lozach said the company estimates a 30 percent cost savings by deploying a converged IP-based voice and data network as opposed to continuing to maintain two separate networks.

"The big value of a converged network is as a building block for business solutions," said Lozach. "With customers going to IP soft phones and the cost of IP phones going down too, cost savings can be realized."

In addition to cost savings, IBM is preaching the productivity benefits of a converged network. As an example, Lozach illustrated a scenario in which a customer service agent could click the name of a domain expert and automatically dial them in for sales assistance no matter where they were located.

The business consulting services division of IBM Global Services, obtained from IBM's announced US$3.5 billion July acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers' consulting arm, will be responsible for the engagements with customers.

According to Lozach, service includes consulting, strategy development, integration, deployment, installation, and ongoing management of the network equipment such as the IP-based PBX.

Cisco equipment will be used primarily, according to IBM. However, the company will also support and work with equipment from Avaya, Siemens, Alcatel, and Nortel Networks.

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