The Taxonomy of VoIP

Audience participation is fun, and here's something you might want to lend your mind to.

VoIP is ever-evolving, with new variations and categories springing up regularly. I'm facilitating a process with to develop a list of categories that reflects the overall state of the market these days.

This posting is actually Part 1 of a 2 part process. We have put together a short list of high level categories, as well as a more lengthy list of sub-categories that we'd like to think captures the key varieties of equipment and services from vendors, as well as the main types of service providers.

At this stage, I'm just going to list the high level categories. I'm hoping this might stimulate some dialog, and I invite your comments on whether this is on the mark or not. Once I get some feedback on this, then we can get into the more interesting laundry list of sub-categories. This can be a useful exercise as the VoIP universe expands and envelops so many branches of the communications tree.

So, here's Part 1. It's a short list - there's not much there, but the idea is to say this - if you were to boil down the VoIP market into a handful of higher order groupings, is this what it would look like to you?

Higher Order Categories:

VoIP Equipment - gateways, softswitches, IP phones, etc.
Network Infrastructure - security, SIP proxies, QoS monitoring, etc.
Back Office Support Systems - billing, provisioning, etc.
Communications and PC Solutions - operating systems, IM platforms, conferencing, etc.
Service Providers - wireline, wireless, wholesalers, virtual operators, etc.
Facilitators - VARs, distributors, system integrators, etc.

Again, I welcome your input, in whatever form it takes. I'd like to evaluate the comments over the next few days, then get back to you on what is shaping up.

If you prefer to comment privately, you can email me directly -


For another take on this topic, I was part of a VON Radio podcast this week with's inimitable Carl Ford, and Tom Howe of Versatel Networks. We had a high level discussion about this - among other things, and I'll be posting a link for it on Friday.

Until then, I urge you check out VON Radio, and I encourage you to contact me if you're interested in being part of future podcasts.