Session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking or a hosted IP phone system? That’s the question facing a number organizations, but the answer typically lies with the existing telephony platform, not the features and benefits of each model.

First, let’s define SIP and SIP trunking. SIP is a signaling protocol that makes it possible for different devices to seamlessly communicate, using IP voice/video conferencing, instant messaging, presence, and other multimedia applications. Essentially, SIP identifies the device and application being used by a caller and finds out a person’s availability, device and application preferences. SIP trunking uses VoIP to connect a PBX to the Internet rather than a conventional telephone trunk. This allows communication with both fixed telephone and mobile users.

SIP trunking reduces telecom costs in a number of ways. Data, voice and video are combined on a single IP network connection, which saves money, improves reliability and reduces the need for legacy connectivity. Combining these modes of communication on a single line also enables organizations to optimize bandwidth and consolidate WAN connections. SIP enables you to pay only for the number of trunks you need and allows the flexibility to pay as you go to account for spikes in traffic. Beyond costs savings, SIP trunking enables a full range of unified communications (UC) and collaboration services and makes it easier to connect branch offices with the main data center.

We stated at the beginning of this post that the existing telephony platform often dictates whether an organization will choose SIP trunking or a hosted IP phone system. If you recently invested in an onsite, IP-based PBX system, adding SIP trunking services to the existing solution would probably be the best approach in order to leverage existing investments and capabilities. All of the latest IP phone systems, including industry-leading solutions from ShoreTel, need SIP trunking to get the most from VoIP capabilities.

An organization using a PBX platform that is nearing the end of the road is in a different situation. Because they’re replacing the system, they can weigh SIP trunking and a hosted platform. An on-premises system provides greater customization and control, and it can be integrated with other business applications. It also requires new hardware, software and licenses. With a hosted solution, you don’t have to make those capital investments.

However, hybrid deployments are becoming more common as enterprises become more dispersed and needs vary from location to location. A hybrid approach enables organizations to choose the best solution for each location. For example, remote workers and smaller branches would use a cloud-based solution, while main offices or contact centers would use SIP trunking to connect via an onsite UC platform.

IPC Technologies is a ShoreTel Gold Champion Partner, specializing in the deployment of on-premises, cloud and hybrid telephony solutions. Let’s discuss your communications needs and determine which approach is best-suited to your organization.