Book Review: A Hands-On Guide to Adopting Internet Telephony for IT Professionals

Switching from packet switched, “traditional” telephone service to Voice Over the Internet (VOIP) is not something to do just for the heck of things. But it is something you SHOULD consider, but consider wisely.
To help you might want to have a look at O’Reilly’s latest book, “Switching to VoIP” by Ted Wallingford.
O’Reilly writes: The book includes a brief introduction to traditional telecom systems, compares their features and fundamentals to IP telephony systems, and
shows ways to integrate traditional telephony assets into an IP-based
voice network. “Switching to VoIP” also describes the standards involved
so readers can make educated choices about the large selection of
components and vendors needed to design and implement a converged IP data
and voice network with superior quality of service.
Among the rapid technological advances over the past
twenty-five years, one venerable system has remained virtually unchanged:
the global telephone network that’s been in use for more than a century.
And now, even that is due to be replaced. Within the next ten years,
according to Jupiter Research, as many as two-thirds of the 230 million
landline telephones in the United States alone will be replaced by VoIP
(Voice over Internet Protocol), which makes phone service via the Internet
possible. A vast majority of systems management specialists plans to adopt
VoIP technologies within the next year.
“VoIP has sweeping implications for everybody who uses telephones, the
Internet, fax machines, email, and the Web,” notes Ted Wallingford,
network architect and author of “Switching to VoIP” (O’Reilly, US $29.95).
“Hundreds of thousands of VoIP-based devices are in use in the United
States, and the next evolutionary step for the Internet is to become
reliable enough to replace the global telephone network as we know it.”
VoIP is particularly appealing to business customers, especially those
with enterprise networks. With “Switching to VoIP,” Wallingford offers a
hands-on guide for IT managers, network engineers, and systems
administrators who are looking for practical ways to adapt a local- or
wide-area network infrastructure to replace existing enterprise telephone
networks, such as PBX systems. Migrating to a single network carrying
voice and data is easier and cheaper to scale and maintain, and allows for
more centralized administrative control. “If it’s done right,” he says,
“VoIP can transform the cost model of telecommunications by combining the
overhead of voice and data expertise.”
There are potential pitfalls along the path to Voice over IP, he warns,
and already several high-profile implementation failures have occurred
among large enterprise adopters. “This may be why IP telephony has such an
intimidating reputation,” Wallingford suggests. “Switching to VoIP”
addresses the most common reasons that VoIP migrations fail, and answers
questions about protocols and equipment that are not clouded by sales
pitches from IP vendors.
Wallingford ran head-on into that problem recently while designing an
ambitious, multi-site communications network upgrade for a large
construction contractor. “To prepare myself to lead that project, I sought
out good reference material,” he explains. “Unfortunately, I was spoon-fed
sales pitch after sales pitch by the VoIP equipment vendors and their
salespeople–Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, Mitel, NEC, and so on. I was looking
for neutral, standards-respecting VoIP authority in book form, and I
couldn’t find it. So I decided to write it myself.”
His goal with “Switching to VoIP” is to prepare readers to deal more
confidently with vendors and implement the right VoIP solution the first
time. “Though this book presents a fair amount of theory, we’ve gone to
great lengths to keep the material as practical as possible,” Wallingford
says. “It’s been written so that you can read a chapter, apply that
chapter, and come back to learn more.”