The promise of voice over IP (VoIP) is hard to resist: a single network carrying data, voice and other traffic, enabling a wide range of advanced communications applications. And all this can be implemented with comparative ease and with substantial cost savings over traditional telephony.
It's too bad that it's not completely true.
Make no mistake, VoIP is a big part of the future of voice communications, and its benefits are legion. The problem is that the real advantages of the technology are often obscured by a combination of genuine excitement, optimizing, unrealistic expectations and marketing hype. VoIP is the future, but it's a future shrouded in myth.
"The whole point is that people are moving in that direction," says Forrester Research vice president Elizabeth Herrell. "But I wouldn't want people to go into the future blind."
One of the most persistent myths about enterprise VoIP is that, right out of the box, it's a money-saving technology. The truth, however, is a bit more complicated, according to Herrell. "Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't," she says. "It's really situation-dependent -- in some cases, enterprises have saved a huge amount, and then some haven't."