SIP and VoIP are two common communication protocols. Each has their own pros and cons, and they can sometimes be used together. Here are a few basics on what they are used for and how they might be able to improve productivity and reduce communications costs.


SIP Basics


SIP stands for “Session Initiated Protocol” and describes a communications protocol that can send multimedia and voice messages to multiple parties. Much of the processing load is taken on by individual systems called “user agents,” software that is located on an individual user’s system. This can help reduce the burden placed on a centralized service.


Since multiple systems are in charge of managing SIP messages, users gain access to much more bandwidth and computing resources. This can dramatically improve the performance of a collaborative session between parties connecting to a SIP system. SIP is a peer-to-peer system that can handle larger amounts of data traffic. This is why businesses turn to SIP if they need to transmit video or photo media.


VoIP Basics


VoIP stands for “Voice over IP,” which translates to voice communications over online networks. This protocol is most popularly deployed with apps like Skype, Google Talk, and other Wi-Fi smartphone apps that promote voice communications. For businesses, VoIP can be an affordable alternative to traditional landlines and cellular plans. However, VoIP hosts handle traffic differently than SIP systems.


VoIP filters, organizes, and directs traffic from a central network. This means that a VoIP system could be potentially overloaded with high amounts of traffic, which can affect overall performance of the system. The single network system boasts strong security defenses, since there are fewer points that handle communications. However a VoIP network can become flooded with traffic, leading to lag times in communication.


Ideal Scenarios


SIP tends to be preferred by companies with multiple branches or remote workers, whose employees rely on multimedia communications. This protocol is built to better handle heavy data flow, since processing is fragmented rather than centralized. SIP systems tend to be more difficult to setup and maintain, so it recommended for companies with advanced IT knowledge.


VoIP is a very common business communications protocol, and it is not difficult to find telephone systems packages that offer VoIP communications services. This protocol can be ideal for small businesses with fewer locations that rely primarily on voice interactions.


Compatible Solutions


SIP and VoIP communications systems can be linked with toll free phone numbers so that your call center can better handle inbound communication. Many enterprise and small business apps on mobile devices are also VoIP and SIP friendly. As you move forward with unified communication systems, you should work with your IT department to make sure your current hardware and software solutions are compatible with a SIP or VoIP setup. You also want to ensure that compatible third-party apps do not open your communications up to risk. While VoIP and SIP have many integrated security features, you can still accidentally introduce vulnerabilities, especially in an environment where employees bring their own devices.


Sit down with your leadership teams and IT department to discover the best communication protocols that fit your organization’s needs. They are meant to handle different types of traffic loads and communication styles. Both SIP and VoIP have their own benefits and shortcomings in various situations – you must get a handle for the protocols that work best for your customers, employees, budget, and workflow.


What have your experiences been with SIP and VoIP? Please share your thoughts on these communications protocols in the comments below.