New Briefs – VoIP, Disk-based data protection, HL7

Sales of enterprise voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lines are expected to increase 24 per cent per year, according to a private branch exchange sales forecast from the Dell’Oro Group.

It its IP Telephony 5-Year Forecast Report, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based market research firm predicts by 2010, revenues from IP lines will be US$4.6 billion per year, while the total PBX market will be US$7.1 billion annually.

Most IP PBXs sold today are actually hybrid appliances, capable of connecting both IP and time-division multiplexing (TDM) phones, said Steve Raab, Dell’Oro’s director of IP telephony research. Pure IP PBXs account for only 20 per cent of total PBX revenues, he said.

But Dell’Oro predicts a slowdown in hybrid PBX sales, as more companies opt for pure IP hardware.

“At this point, we’re getting to where IP telephony is more of a mature technology,” Raab said. “In 2002 and 2003, this technology was still not fully featured and there were still some quality issues, whether it was in the products themselves or in the underlying network.”

In the past, corporate networks were often unsuited for real-time applications such as voice, but companies have been upgrading their local-area networks while IP PBX vendors have been adding more features to their products, Raab said.

Corporate telecom managers were initially attracted to IP telephony because it reduced the cost of making long-distance calls between branch offices, but now, more companies are looking for “extra value” from IP communications, such as the ability to run applications such as instant messaging, multi-party collaboration, video conferencing and sales force automation, Raab said.

“We are seeing acceleration to putting much more IP on the desktop, and we’re seeing businesses caring about applications.”

He added businesses managers want to be able to connect home workers to their office systems, and are looking for products that will connect all offices in the corporation, eliminating the need to install small switches in all branch offices.

Raab also predicts Microsoft Corp. can “disrupt” the market with products like Live Communications Server and Communications Server 2007. Even though Microsoft is not a traditional telephony vendor, it is now more active in the enterprise voice and unified communications markets.

Companies will spend US$8 billion on

disk-based data protection this year, as the ability to restore critical applications becomes more important, according to a study released by Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

In Disk-Based Data Protection 2005, IDC predicts the technology will “generate more than US$50 billion” in software and hardware purchases through 2010. This figure includes software, appliances and disk arrays but does not include networked storage or other networking devices, said Robert Gray, IDC’s research vice-president for worldwide storage.

Although tape allows companies to make 24-hour backups, it’s becoming more important for many firms to recover more recent data in the event of a system failure.

As a result, IDC says the disk-based data protection market is growing at a rate two to three times faster than the overall storage market.

Several vendors are offering continuous data protection (CDP), but many users don’t understand the meaning of the term, Gray said.

“If they find a recovery point less than 24 hours (old), they think of that as continuous data protection,” he said.

Part of the problem, he said, is vendors referring to products that take snapshots as CDP.

Canada Health Infoway says it is prepared to offer implementation support and education services to encourage vendors to adopt a messaging standard that many of them feel will required costly upgrades to their products and is unpopular among customers.

In July, several health-care industry groups published a position paper regarding the Health Level 7 (HL7) standard they had sent to Infoway late last year. The trade groups, which include the L’Association de l’industrie des technologies de la sante (Association of health technologies industry) and the Canadian Health Information Technology Trade Association (CHITTA) want the agency to reconsider a policy whereby it only funds electronic health record (EHR) projects based on version 3 of the standard.

HL7, which is governed by an American non-profit of the same name, is considered a key standard for allowing the interchange of clinical, and administrative information in an EHR, but HL7v3 is a much different version than its predecessors, such as the more popular HL7v2.5, which the trade groups already support.

Infoway chief technology officer Denis Giokas said that while HL7v2.5 works very well on point-to-point integration and in departmental settings, large-scale integration across cities, provinces or the country requires the additional HL7v3’s semantic interoperability and strict adherence to vocabulary standards.

“It’s not just about two systems exchanging data, but each system being able to understand that data,” he said.

Giokas said Infoway had responded to the industry associations’ position paper but had heard no other feedback in return until comments appeared in an article on, the daily news Web site of Communications & Networking’s publisher.

Toronto-based Interfaceware, which focuses on products based on HL7, has deployed its software to 6,000 sites, and only one of them was based on HL7v3, according to product manager Rob Moyse.

“We see it come up all the time in RFPs in Canada,” he said. “In terms of actual concrete V3 reality, though it’s not there yet. We’re not going to support it until there is a demand.”

Moyse said while the HL7v3 is probably in line with where messaging in general should be headed, it faces a classic chicken-and-egg problem.

“Nobody out there wants to be the first adopter of a communications language that nobody else speaks,” he said. “It’s like me saying, ‘Let’s go back to Latin.’ Who wants to be the chump that learns Latin and can’t speak to anybody?”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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