On the Road Again — With SIP

by Andrew Prokop | Arrow Systems Integration

As “the SIP Guy” at Arrow SI it makes complete sense that I would be the one to teach the Introduction to SIP class. After all, a class about INVITE messages, to and from tag fields, SDP media lines, and 3xx response codes requires someone geeky enough to actually care about such things. And believe me, I care. Big time.

Seriously, I am a big believer that if you understand what happens underneath the hood, you are much more likely to comprehend the big picture. Being one with SIP at the network layer provides you with the ammunition to roll-out a complete SIP solution – applications, trunks, and users. That’s not to say that you can’t implement SIP without knowing the difference between an INVITE and a Re-INVITE. You can, but you won’t necessarily know if you’ve put together an optimal configuration. Also, in the case of something not working properly (which happens more often than it should), you might not know what to do to fix it.

Taking it to the Streets

For the first time ever I took the SIP class on the road and taught in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona. This required some significant upfront time to build and configure notebook PCs for lab exercises. When taught in our Minnesota training rooms I have the luxury of Avaya Communication Managers, Session Managers, G450 gateways, and a state of the art data network. On the road I have SIP soft clients running in point-to-point mode, an 8-port data switch, and a plethora of wires running this way and that. That’s not to say that the class suffers due to the lack of a “structured” classroom. On the contrary, this mobile lab gets you closer to SIP than white on rice.

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that it’s impossible to limit the class to just SIP messages and responses. My students are interested in SIP components such as session border controllers and Avaya’s Session Manager. They want to look beyond on-premise SIP and think about SIP communications in the cloud. They want to know how SIP works, but more importantly, they want to know why it works and what to do with it. Fortunately, that’s exactly what I strive to teach them.

What’s Next

I teach this same mobile SIP class in Salt Lake City next month and I know that what I learned here in Scottsdale will make that course even better. I expect that whatever comes after SLC will be better still. Every student question, concern, or problem goes into my head and eventually makes its way into a PowerPoint presentation or a whiteboard brainstorming session. My goal is to not only teach the best class I possibly can, but to keep it fresh and exciting for me. After all, a happy teacher makes for engaged students and that in turn makes the teacher (i.e. me) even happier.

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