Skype for SIP has been on a roll in the past couple of weeks.
First ShoreTel and SIPFoundry signed onto the program, announcing that their systems will interconnect successfully with Skype for SIP, an initiative to forge connections between its global phone network and businesses with IP PBX systems.
Now Skype has hooked an even bigger fish, with the announcement by Cisco that Skype for SIP has been certified as interoperable with its Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business.
Mark Monday, VP and general manager of Ciscos small business solution business unit, said interoperability will help Cisco better serve small businesses in times when cash is tight.
"Cisco recognizes that small businesses are severely constrained in their IT budgets and time to troubleshoot problems, so we feel a responsibility to simplify how video, IP telephony, and secure data networks work for those customers," he said in a prepared statement.
The new solution offers Cisco users a predictable, low-maintenance way to tap into Skypes multifaceted functionality.
"Being able to use Skype with the Cisco UC500 enables small businesses to communicate with vendors, partners, and customers in exactly the same way 480 million Skype users do today," he said. "That represents another step in ensuring that IT simply works the way its supposed to when small businesses need it to."
Ciscos readiness to interface with Skype for SIP is "all part of the plan," said Ian Robin, head of commercial development for the business team at Skype. Skypes long-term goal is to ensure that all major IP PBX providers eventually can interoperate with Skype for SIP, he said.
With Skype use already widespread among individual users, many IT managers are looking for a way to incorporate Skype within their existing telephony frameworks, Robin said. Businesses will embrace the offering, he predicted, as a way to leverage their already significant IP PBX investments.
"You dont want to throw all that equipment away if your employees start communicating with Skype among themselves," he said. "In this economic environment, they want to lengthen the lifespan of that equipment as much as possible."
In conjunction with recent announcements, Skype also has launched a Service Partner Program to train VARs in Skype for SIP and other Skype offerings. It also has inaugurated the Skype Academy to train individual salespeople on the product portfolio.
"People think they know what we do, but when you actually train them on all the different products Skype can take to market, they see there is a whole lot other stuff we do beyond voice calls," Robin said.