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SIP is Open. What does that Mean?

Updated on May 2, 2014
Using the SIP Protocol
Using the SIP Protocol

Competing Protocols

Both consumer and business VoIP has grown by leaps and bounds during the last decade. Most VoIP systems are built atop the SIP protocol or in the very least, offer SIP compatibility. There are numerous SIP compatible phones, hardware, applications and services suitable for any size and type of business organization.

Although there are many competing protocols for VoIP signaling such as BICC, H.323 etc. SIP remains the most popular. If your organization is looking to purchase or has implemented a VoIP communication system, you might have already heard about the many benefits offered by the protocol. Its proponents frequently cite its “openness” as a huge advantage. But what exactly does open mean and how can it benefit your business?

Being Open - Benefits

When it comes to software standards, protocols may be open or proprietary. Proprietary protocols are owned by a single organization or individual. Usually, the owner(s) try to enforce control over the protocol/standard through patents and by keeping the software implementation secret. Ex: Skype.

Open protocols, on the other hand, are not owned by anyone. In the case of the SIP protocol, it is developed by the IETF. Open standards are widely available to the public and anyone with programming skills can make applications based on them. Unlike proprietary protocols, there are many degrees of “openness” and some standards may be more or less open than others.

An open protocol such as SIP offers many benefits to enterprises when it comes to implementation:

1. It is free

This means organizations do not have to pay royalties in order to build their own applications using SIP. There is a wide variety of open SIP software available that can work with each other, giving companies more options. It reduces the cost of acquiring and implementing VoIP for businesses.

2. Interoperability and compatibility

Because SIP is open, software programmers have developed a staggering array of applications that work not only with each other but also with more types of hardware. Companies are not limited to a few standard models for which the sole supplier can charge exorbitant prices.

3. Security

Some people may assume that open protocols are more susceptible to security attacks. In reality, the openness of SIP business VoIP enables developers and security specialists from around the world to view the underlying source code. A wider pool of experts is available to find and patch bugs and other security loopholes.

While industry experts still debate the benefits of proprietary versus open protocols, there is no doubt that SIP (and every business that uses it) has benefited enormously from being an open standard.

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