2005.02.07

I know these guys who were planning on implementing VoIP at their employer, which I thought was very cool. They even dabbled with Asterisk, which again, I thought was very cool…

Fast forward a few months and when I get an update, I find out they’ve choosen a vendor, solution, what-have-you, and while it’s VoIP, is what I call VoIP The Wrong Way.

By that I mean, while they can use any hardware phones, and they’ve choosen some nice ones, they have a solution that only works with the softphone provided by the vendor (lock-in) which, by the way, only runs on Windows (more lock-in.)

Granted, they are a bit of a Windows shop, but they’ve now limited softphone use to people who have Windows. Their plan included people who might have to work from home or the road using softphones, which means people who run Mac OS X or Linux are out of luck. That also means that they are tied to the vendor for the softphone they use, and while it appears to be a solid piece of software today, who knows how that may change in the future. It’s a shame they won’t be able to just swap softphones if a better once comes along. (Note that I don’t have all the details here, it may actually just be the codecs supported that limit the softphone used.)

I honestly don’t mean to condemn, or say anyone made the wrong choice. There are many factors at play in such a decision, but I’m one to avoid lock-in whenever possible, at the operating system level, and at the vendor level, unless the reasons for choosing lock-in are so compelling as to be worth the risk. Who knows? That may be the case in this situation…

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