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  • The first thing you need to do is deal with the interface between the phone network and the IP network. If you are moving away from a desk phone, you can’t necessarily dump your connectivity to the public phone network because that would preclude you from communicating with people whose kit is not as advanced as yours.You will need to support both SIP trunks, SIP being the best lowest common denominator for IP trunks, and telco-style trunks. If the in-house phone system supports both, that's great as you can configure it to bridge between the two.For ancient phone systems that don't support IP telephony you have the choice of either upgrading to a newer unit or using one of the plethora of IP-to-telco converter devices on the market.In many cases one can buy a full-blown PBX (private branch exchange) for a modest sum, or even go for an open-source option and just pay for a telco line card to go in the server.You can demote the old PBX to the tasks that only it can handle, such as being the host for proprietary digital phones and analogue fax/modem lines.Moving away from having a phone on the desk means having a softphone application on your PCs, tablets and smartphones. It is not quite that easy, though: you have to think ahead so as not to cut off your future options.

    If the goal is simply to implement voice technology while avoiding having a phone, that is easy: just install a SIP-compliant phone application on each device. But it makes much more sense to look at a general approach that gives options for video and the like.If you have a Microsoft setup, the obvious way to go is Lync. A number of companies I have spoken to lately are seriously considering Lync as the successor to their current phone system when it comes to the end of its useful life.One can understand why: Lync brings together voice, video, text chat and, with its bigger brother Exchange/Outlook, email.The next component to doing telephony without a phone is the underlying directory. I alluded earlier to the idea of bridging between a SIP world and a telco world using gateways and keeping the old phone system to do the stuff that only it could do.Realistically, though, you need a single underlying directory structure that enables you to tell the system how people's phone numbers and other identities (SIP addresses, email addresses and the like) link together.

    If your legacy kit can't connect to your central directory service where this information lives (via LDAP, say), then you really need to think hard. Your best bet is probably to bite the bullet and move to a platform that can handle this type of connectivity.You want devices to be able to register themselves on your network from anywhere in the world One last step you need to take is to look at where the users' client applications will be connecting from. If you are putting SIP client apps on your users' smartphones, you want the devices to be able to register themselves on your network from any connection, anywhere in the world.This means ensuring that you have the right gateways and firewall rules in your edge devices and the necessary mechanisms in place to ensure the devices can register securely but flexibly from anywhere.You don't want to have to faff about with such things as two-factor authentication on such applications. That is fine for users connecting laptops to the office via a VPN but not for registering a phone each time it is fired up and connects to a Wi-Fi hotspot.So you will probably want to use on-board certificates or the like on the devices to enable auto-registration.In short, the basics of having a phone without actually having a phone are: implement SIP capability to host the sessions; interface it to the PSTN (via a gateway if you have to); pick a communications server and client that don't preclude the use of features that you don't yet need; think about the edge of your network and how external clients connect inwards; and underpin the lot with a comprehensive directory service.

    There is quite a chunk of work to do, but although Rome's telecoms service wasn't built in a day, it wasn't built by rocket scientists either. Don’t be afraid. Comment Steve Jobs would confide that LSD was a formative influence on his life, one that distinguished him from his less-adventurous peers in the tech industry.Jobs is gone, but I wonder if someone left some Pounds Shillings and Pence lying around the Cupertino campus?You may not have noticed, but the world's richest company* announced two things yesterday.Apple didn't just announce a pointless and expensive watch. It also announced a pointless and expensive laptop. The new MacBook is a cripplingly underpowered machine with just one port. For everything. Including power.For a company with two pinnacles of design and engineering in its current range – the MacBook Pro and 13-inch Air are strong contenders for the finest personal computers ever made – this seems a puzzling, backward step. The new MacBook, like the Apple Watch, seems like more evidence that this vastly rich company is just doing things for the sake of it.I've often argued that even if you don't like or want an Apple product, it's a good thing for the market, and you'll benefit indirectly. The iPhone falls into this category. I really wanted to see it succeed, because it was obvious that the incumbents had badly let us down.

    The big equipment vendors (particularly Nokia) and their handful of big customers had become very cosy. Data wasn't bundled with device contracts, and was expensive. The devices had got dumber and dumber, more complicated and more unreliable. It needed somebody from outside the industry to change this. Apple raised the bar for design and user expectations, and we all benefited.Apple did something similar, but less dramatic, with laptop design. It began to make them insanely thin. They were far more expensive than they needed to be, and more fragile than competitors' machines. But Apple design again drove up quality in the market, and raised user expectations.Jobs was clearly proud of this; amongst the patents on which he is personally named is a design for bonding the display to the frame, to produce an extremely thin housing. Before this caught on, the LED display on a bog standard Dell or HP laptop would resemble a slightly-flattened tortoise shell.That design was something Wintel didn't try too hard to do, as there was no incentive to take risks in a business that was all about cutting costs. Those of us who lugged 10lb Toshibas around in the 1990s can forget how much more convenient laptops have become. All thanks to design and clever engineering.

    And as a non-Apple user you could relax, for this kind of risk was being borne by others, not you. This wasn't British Leyland, or, or the Government's Digi-Shambles (GDS): Apple's experiments are being paid for using someone else's money.Apple boss Tim Cook appeared at an art center in San Francisco on Monday to confirm when the much-hyped and super-expensive Apple Watch will go on sale.In short, you can order one from April 10, and it'll hit store shelves on April 24. Cook also revealed other bits and pieces, such as a new slim MacBook going on sale soon.As expected, the price tags on the watch will range from expensive ($349 for an aluminum Sport watch with rubber band) to eye-watering expensive (a Watch running from $549 to $1100 depending on the band and screen size) to flat-out obscene (a solid gold Watch Edition will start at $10,000 and go up to $17,000).The three price tiers: 'reasonable' 'outrageous' and 'that's more than my car cost' Cook and Co. said the arm-slab will support pay-by-bonk Apple Pay, and can answer calls from your wrist (like Dick Tracy). It charges wirelessly when snapped into a cradle; one charge lasts up to 18 hours. The gadget is rated IPX7: it can be splashed with water, and submerged to one metre, but swimming with the bling-pod on your wrist will likely ruin it.

    We're told the travel biz and home appliance makers are making apps so wearers can check into flights, unlock hotel rooms, and switch on toasters by waving the gizmo over a terminal or sensor.It can also measure your heart rate and distance walked – going as far as nagging you if you're being too lazy – and run other apps to show things like the weather and stock prices, just like rival smartwatches. You need an iPhone with the Watch so it can connect to the internet and be useful beyond telling the time.Though most of these features were announced during previous publicity events, today's presentation finally confirmed an official release date and price points for the smartwatch line. It'll go on sale in nine countries initially: US, UK, China, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, France, Germany and Canada.Apple is also working with hospitals and universities to publish an open-source software development kit dubbed ResearchKit to (in theory) contribute data to medical research projects. Users can download and install apps built using the toolkit, and opt into the medical studies. Their basic health information, collected from their iThings, will be given directly to researchers through a secure channel. Early partners for the program include UCLA, Mt Sinai hospital and Stanford University. Apple says it cannot access this information.