Reflections on Spring VON 2006 – Peer-to-peer SIP

Henning Schulzrinne and Henry Sinnreich were championing P2P SIP at VON. These men are legendary and I respect tham a great deal. That said, the P2P SIP efforts leave me a bit unfulfilled. Chasing the likes of Skype is beneath such men, and yet that’s exactly what P2P SIP feels like.

The Internet pioneers didn’t copy some existing commercial implementation of on-line systems, like Compuserve or Prodigy. They leap-frogged such systems, thinking “outside the box” as the popular saying goes.

Before Vonage, nobody was talking about ‘broandband phone service’ in that form. Afterwards, Vonage-style VoIP was all anyone could see and nobody was talking about something like Skype. Now we have Skype, and again, we’re acting like it’s the end, rather than what it really is, an evolutionary, closed, proprietary, step along the way — a step that will pass, along with all the others before it.

So instead of copying Skype, we have to be thinking well beyond it. Some colleagues and I did SIPshare some 18 months ago, to demonstrate the application of SIP in pure peer-to-peer (serverless) environments — P2P SIP is old news.

Ebay’s multi-billion dollar Skype acquisition seems to have created an industry wide temporary blindness. Trust me, the wealth that will be created by the things that will follow Skype will pale that number. That’s where we need to be putting our enegry and that’s where we need great minds like Henning and Henry.

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