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A little over a decade ago, a young whippersnapper by the name of Irwin Lazar, with Nemertes Research, wrote a post for No Jitter entitled, “SIP Trunking Coming of Age.” At that point -- March 2008 -- SIP trunking was a relatively new technology, but as Irwin’s title suggested, it was thought to be reaching the point of maturity, after a few years in which the carriers had been fighting against enterprise demand for the service. The carriers knew SIP trunks would cannibalize the highly-profitable PRI services that were the ubiquitous technology for voice trunks at the time.

What I’m saying is, SIP trunking is not a new technology. On the other hand, the SIP trunking market isn’t standing still.

This past week, an older, wiser Irwin joined an older, more hairline-challenged me on a webinar about the newest variation on SIP trunking -- “elastic” SIP trunking, pioneered by communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) vendors like Twilio and Nexmo, the latter of which sponsored the webinar. Elastic SIP trunks leverage the CPaaS provider’s APIs to allow for dynamic configuration of a SIP trunking service that a company like Nexmo will deliver, drawing on SIP trunk circuits from multiple carriers.

The model of a dynamically configured service means the enterprise doesn’t have to buy a nailed-up circuit that’s being paid for even when it’s not in use -- an “elastic” service is paid for by the minute. It also means the enterprise can scale capacity up and down as needed -- a perfect fit for a WAN service that’s commonly used for contact centers.

In that post from a decade ago, Irwin presented Nemertes survey data showing that 53% of IT executives said their organizations were already using SIP trunks, or planned to do so in the next one to three years --i.e., by 2011 at the latest.

In this week’s webinar, Irwin presented the results of a 2018 Nemertes survey that included questions on SIP trunking. Turns out, the “using or plan to use” number had grown to… 57%. As Irwin said in the webinar, “We’re not anywhere close to 100% adoption of SIP trunking.”

I haven’t asked Irwin about his take on the two sets of numbers or whether the two surveys are directly comparable, but I think if you step back there’s a pretty clear picture of how expectation collides with reality in enterprise communications. From my own experience, I can tell you that in 2008 I sure thought SIP trunks were going to be nearly ubiquitous before 2018. Certainly they’re much more commonplace today than a decade ago. But I can also tell you that enterprise complaints about not being able to get SIP trunks that met their needs, or about being challenged to implement the service seamlessly, have been a continual drumbeat for the last decade.

Technologies rarely “take over,” and even when there is a clear, irreversible shift to a replacement technology, the process almost always plays out, on the ground, over a very long time. That’s turned out to be the case with SIP trunks. So now a new model is in place that can offer your enterprise cost savings compared with the “traditional” product -- which itself promised major savings over PRIs. Hopefully, elastic SIP trunks will keep the pressure on all market participants to continue making SIP trunks more available, consumable, and affordable.

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