Discuss The Three Primary Features Of An Object-Oriented Programming Language What Is The Difference Between IP PBX And Softswitch?

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What Is The Difference Between IP PBX And Softswitch?

IP-PBX systems and softswitches are in some ways apples and oranges. While in most cases the softswitches are IP-PBX systems, the reverse is not always true.

When a system is called IP-PBX, that typically only indicates that the system supports VOIP communication to the phone and/or to the PSTN (via something like a SIP trunk). Avaya and Nortel have IP-PBX systems, along with a host of other established and new manufacturers in the telecommunications space.

A “softswitch” in the truest sense is a PBX that derives its functionality primarily from software. Voicemail, call handling, call center functionality, etc., are all implemented via software and use hardware only for the basic connection to the PSTN or telephone. Asterisk is an example of a softswitch.

Softswitches are almost always IP-PBX systems, as this is the easiest way to avoid a reliance on specific hardware. Asterisk, for example, can operate as a pure IP-PBX softswitch on standard PC server hardware. Communication with the PSTN and mobile phones is done via a software-based VOIP stack.

IP-PBX systems, on the other hand, are not always softswitches. Almost all IP-PBX systems offered by hardware giants such as Nortel and Avaya achieve their features via hardware – expansion cards that fit into the main chassis. In my opinion, while these systems can derive some capabilities from the firmware, it is not appropriate to call such a system a softswitch.

There are also some hybrid systems like those of Vertical Communications and AltiGen. These systems are software-based in the sense that most of their functions come from software running on a Windows Server PC, but with the exception of Vertical’s HMP system, they require specific hardware to operate.

There is no limitation of capacity or intrinsic capabilities to the IP-PBX systems or softswitches given that we are talking about the architecture, but the implementations in the real world of softswitches can only grow because they are sometimes used for the change of the carrier Any difference in capacity that you see in the market is probably not the result of the technology, but rather the marketing focus of the manufacturer (the SMB market is very attractive, but do not assume that just because IP-PBX systems are generally focus on the 25). -250 chair sizes you can’t get bigger).

Connectivity to a third-party application server is not something that should necessarily be affected by the IP-PBX/softswitch distinction, since even most purely hardware-based systems support gateways that allow integration with external application servers. That said, a softswitch will usually make the job much easier. Most softswitches include programming APIs that allow gateways to be programmed in a common programming language such as VB or a .NET language. Asterisk is programmable if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, and both Vertical’s AltiGen and TeleVantage include COM object-based SDKs that allow extensive switch control for IVR creation and management of personalized calls for PC.

Contrast this with some of the proprietary script-based gateways of some hardware-based systems (including some hardware-based IP-PBX systems) where there is no standard programming interface and the end user is not able to modify the door without assistance (read: cost) from the supplier.

The major difference between Softswitch and IP-PBX is that they are analogous to Switch/MSC and PBX respectively in TDM networks.

Only Softswitch can act as Switch / MSC and the access technology can be based on IP / GSM / CDMA / CDMA2000 / UMTS / WCDMA.

Where as the purpose of IP-PBX is to….

a. convert IP Phone calls to TDM calls to interface with PSTN Switch or other switches.

b. Switch calls on IP-PBX phones

A broad difference based definition is below.

Soft switch …..

A programmable network switch that can process signaling for all types of packet protocols. Also known as “media gateway controller”, “call agent” or “call server”, such devices are used by carriers that support converged communication services by integrating SS7 telephone signaling with packet networks. Using network processors at their core, softswitches can support IP, DSL, ATM and frame relay in the same unit.

According to the International Softswitch Consortium, a softswitch must be able to…..

(1) control connection services for a media gateway and/or native IP endpoint,

(2) select the processes that can be applied to a call,

(3) provide routing for a call in the network based on signaling and customer database information,

(4) transfer control of the call to another network element, and

(5) interface to support management functions such as provisioning, fault, billing, etc.

The software makes it flexible…..

The switching technology in a softswitch is in software (hence its name) rather than in hardware as with traditional switching center technology. This software programmability makes it possible to support existing and future IP telephony protocols (H.323, SIP, MEGACO, etc.).

IP PBX ….

(Internet Protocol Private Branch eXchange) A telephony engine that supports voice over IP (VoIP). IP PBXs convert IP phone calls into traditional circuit TDM connections for the PSTN. They also support traditional analog and digital phones, allowing businesses to slowly migrate to an all-IP telephony environment.

That’s it. It sounds complicated and confusing. It can be….but it doesn’t have to be.

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