Monday, March 23, 2009

Skype Marriage with SIP, Half Hearted!

Skype announced the launch of a beta version of Skype for SIP. It’s a very calculated move from eBay to introduce skype to the corporate world. This solution allows the SIP community to reach 405 million skype users. For all those folks that were pushing for some kind of Skype to SIP interop, this maybe a small wish fulfilled. I still don’t think it’s a transparent interconnect between Skype and SIP. What this solution promises is a one to one mapping between your SIP IP-PBX IP address to a skype id (The Skype ID that u create as part of the registration with business skype). So an incoming skype call to the IP-PBX could be routed to any of the local endpoint connected to the PBX. For e.g., a business user could create a skype account called customersupport and map the same with his companies SIP IP-PBX. So any skype users could call customersupport without knowing that it’s actually being answered by a non skype client. In addition, all these configurations are controlled by web site.

So is this a move by Skype to counter all those accusation hurled at them for being closed and proprietary. Well I guess not. They see a huge potential in the enterprise telephony market and this is an excellent ploy to become a gateway between the SIP IP-PBX world and the PSTN world. They were already using SIP for PSTN interface. Now they are extending the same interface to other corporate IP-PBX network. I don’t understand why the technology community is so excited by this ploy. Agreed, it’s a big leap for a company that was used to supporting closed protocol for so many years. I see this as purely a business case driven decision and nothing more than that. Not sure what will be the fate of "Skype for Asterisk", another initiative by skype and asterisk. I guess Skype for SIP is conflicting with Skype for Asterisk. This announcement should be big blow to SkypeForAterisk program. Also, SFA is $1000 per seat and SFS comes absolutely free. Phil Wolf from Skype Journal has a comparison chart between SFS and SFA. Hope folks at digium can come up with something new to justify the cost and compete with SFS.

Here are some of the features supported by Skype for SIP:
• Receive and manage inbound calls from the 405 million Skype users worldwide on SIP-enabled PBX systems, connecting the company website to the PBX system using Skype click-to-call buttons
• Place calls via Skype to landlines and mobile phones worldwide from any connected SIP-enabled PBX, saving your business money with Skype’s low rates
• Purchase Skype online numbers to receive calls to the corporate PBX from landlines or mobile phones
• Manage Skype calls using your existing hardware and system applications such as call routing, conferencing, phone menus, voicemail and call recording and logging – no additional downloads or training are required

For further reading on this topic:
Dan York has written an excellent article describing the technical nitty-gritty details and it’s worth a read.
Jim Courtney
Om has some good points to make

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