Nimcat Networks

Recently, Lance pointed out Nimcat Networks, an Ottawa-based company that purports to decentralize all call processing for VoIP networks directly into VoIP telephone sets:

Peer to Peer call processing uses the existing LAN infrastructure of a small enterprise and requires no additions or changes to the LAN equipment already in place. Using the processing and memory available on a standard VoIP telephone set and Nimcat's VoIP based patented Peer-to-Peer technology, Nimcat is able to eliminate the need for costly centralized telephony equipment. Nimcat enabled telephone sets provide the same feature rich capabilities that business users have come to expect from a PBX or Centrex based solution, at a fraction of the cost.

If the solution works, their target market (small business) and solution looks very good. However, it all comes down to scalability and features. The information on their website doesn't give many details, but read on for some more thoughts on Nimcat's solution.

I can see the thought process of de-centralizing intelligence -- it's very much in vogue, and counter to current network strategies of telcos and VoIP providers. When they use phrases like "costly centralized telephony equipment", I tend to think that these comparisons are being made to yesterday's proprietary, vendors-specific VoIP solutions. With a wide variety of robust open source solutions, IP-PBX's can be built very cheaply and placed in each office location.

Also, a lot of the advanced features (like unified messaging, where you get voicemail in your inbox) actually require integration with another network "box". With the open source solutions, the cost for the software/functionality is essentially free already, so I get to the question: why NOT centralize the control? If you believe my analogies to the technology growth curve of VPNs, call-control type boxes will eventually move to the level of appliances, much like VPN routers of today.

If anyone has more information on the Nimcat solution, please comment. There are some references to remote software update which leads me to believe there are still some centralized elements. As well, centralization is important from a maintenance/management perspective: how does this get supported by the IT department?