Heard of trunking and nodded along while not really sure what it means? You’re not alone! There’s a whole world of information about trunking out there, and sometimes it can be hard to separate the noise from the valuable insights!


That’s why we’ve created this one stop shop for all things trunking in the MSP world. After you’ve read this article, you’ll know what the different kinds of trunking are, including link aggregation, VLAN trunking, SIP trunking and IP trunking, and how SIP trunking can add revenue for you as a managed service provider.


So, what is trunking anyway?


Trunking is a term that’s used in the telecommunications industry, and it means technology that allows you to share circuits, channels, frequencies or networks among multiple clients rather than needing to set up an individual channel for each client. When it comes to managed services, the term is usually focused on networking, and usually applies to either link aggregation or to the setting up of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs). Let’s look at both.


Link aggregation: Call it trunking, bundling, bonding or teaming, link aggregation is when multiple Ethernet links are put together to form a single logical unit, so that you can allocate traffic across all ports. If you experience a network issue, link aggregation helps you get back up and running faster by using another port. Simultaneous packet transmission boosts performance as well, by sharing the load and reducing congestion.


VLAN trunking: VLANs allow you to isolate communications and assets inside a network for better security and control. With VLAN trunking, the logic of aggregating many into a single unit continues by extending a VLAN across an entire network. The technology uses trunk links so that multiple VLANs work on a single port, and uses tags to ensure that signals can be differentiated and routed correctly. Note: You’ll need to understand the differences between symmetrical and asymmetrical trunking – in symmetrical trunking any port in the group can send packet data to any other port, while with asymmetrical trunking only one is chosen to receive packets, which can have an impact on the speed of data reception.


What is VTP?


You might have heard of VTP, which stands for VLAN Trunking Protocol. This is actually a proprietary link protocol that was created by Cisco, and it’s used to exchange VLAN configuration information. Each VLAN has its own identification number and name, and VTP is used to share this information and enable distribution among different switches.


How about SIP trunking? Is that the same as other kinds of trunking in networking?


Actually, SIP trunking is not about networking at all. It’s back to the traditional idea of trunking, found in Telecommunications, and it’s all about telephone systems. SIP trunking is a flexible VOIP standard that stands for Session Initiated Protocol, and it’s used to transmit data over any network. Instead of using a legacy analog or ISDN trunk, SIP trunking uses a network line to connect over the internet. This saves money over traditional telephony, and can be a great benefit for MSP clients who benefit from the bulk rate you can garner if you purchase these services for multiple clients at one time. Added value for your MSP customers includes:


Lower cost: SIP trunking is a lot more affordable than traditional services as there are no capital investments, no connection costs, and more affordable global communications for long-distance calls. In fact, from one office to another – calls tend to be completely free.


Remote working capabilities: Post-COVID-19, the office will never be the same. As SIP trunking can usually be initiated from any internet-enabled device, clients can allow their employees to call or message from their desktop, laptops, mobiles, or home computers – all within the same network.


Added features: Unlike traditional phones which have pretty minimal use cases, there are additional functions of SIP trunking and VOIP services like voicemail to email, or in-built video conferencing and remote access. All that, plus the call center benefits you expect like call routing or auto-attendant.


Smarter connectivity: As SIP trunking today is regularly cloud-based, and there is no “origin” or “source” for the calls being made, virtual networking can offer great failsafe options like autonomous routing if there are availability issues, and of course no impact from weather conditions or traditional challenges like phone lines going down.


How can MSPs make SIP trunking part of what they offer clients?


With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that SIP trunking is set to be a $12.7B industry by 2023. But what does this have to do with offering IT services? The truth is that most MSPs would never even think to ask their clients about the monthly phone bill, it’s just not part of what they offer. However there is a valuable opportunity here that shouldn’t be missed.


VOIP services or SIP trunking are a far more cost-effective alternative to traditional phone lines, especially if your client’s business works internationally or has multiple offices. If you’re already managing internet and data services, why not consolidate this with phone services, help your customers switch to SIP trunking services, and create a win/win situation!


What unexpected extras do you add to your MSP package that you’ve found to be out of the box but surprisingly lucrative or impactful? Head to Atera’s Facebook community and let us know in the comments!


Interested in learning more about VLANs, and finding out what these mean for your client’s security, privacy and control? Here’s our guide to all things VLAN-shaped!


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