Agencies show high expectation, patience

Voice over IP is still a new technology in the federal government, and even newer protocols such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) are viewed with a great deal

of caution. Nevertheless, SIP is seen as having great potential.

The Naval Sea Systems Command installed Cisco Systems Inc.'s voice-over-IP system last year when it moved to new headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard, and officials expect SIP to be "very important" in the future because it will use a standard, nonproprietary approach and give Navsea a much greater choice of voice-over-IP products and solutions.

However, SIP "was not fully baked" when Navsea deployed voice over IP, so officials decided to go with Cisco's proprietary Skinny Client Control Protocol in the interim. Navsea will upgrade to SIP when Cisco considers the standard to be viable, although "monitoring the maturity of the SIP protocol has not been a priority for us," said a Navsea spokesperson.

Likewise, the Defense Information Systems Agency, which oversees development of Defense Department networks, also expects SIP to be a major part of its plans. But officials will wait until the protocol is proven by the voice-over-IP industry — when SIP products and services are broadly adopted.

In particular, DISA officials want SIP-based systems to meet DOD service requirements. And SIP's lack of security features — including user-level security and infrastructure-protection standards such as secure signaling, routing and network management — is still a major concern.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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