Introducing VoIP delivers significant business benefits, with a reduction in costs an obvious example. But as VoIP continues to gain a foothold within enterprises there are a number of factors that organisations should take into consideration.
As an Access Strategy specialist, C&C Technology, appreciates the ability to communicate effectively is critical to the success of introducing flexible working practices. The ten tips, below, from C&C are intended to help organisations help themselves, use VoIP to improve the effectiveness of making their business critical information more accessible, yet secure.
1. Know your voice traffic Without knowing how many calls are made, when, to where, what time and the nature of each parameter, your business will not have any metrics to use as a calculation and baseline for successful and cost effective deployments.
2. Know your data network As with an existing voice network, a data network has similar metrics in latency, packet loss, jitter and capacity in use. This information should be available before any decision to deploy VoIP/IPT is made.
3. Logically separate voice from data Where possible use different VLANs or network techniques for active voice equipment such as servers and IP handsets. This makes QoS and security easier to implement and manage, and also to troubleshoot and eliminate problems affecting data networks from those affecting voice networks.
4. Use Quality of service (QoS) within a network Whether it is across the LAN or WAN, positive perceptions of voice quality and resilience are essential for successful convergence projects. Ensure QoS is available by the underlying network and devices within and across the network. The latter is important if using Frame Relay, ATM or MPLS “clouds” where Network Carriers such as BT and Cable and Wireless can give priority to recognised voice traffic.
5. Security is as critical for voice as it is for data Security should be a principal requirement and not impacted in any way by the nature of your VoIP/IPT platform. Actively look for vendors who have a comprehensive approach to security by complementary own, or third party products, that are simple to integrate and manage, yet can robustly secure that platform.
6. Look to open standards Adopt an open standards route, as this ensures optimum investment protection. These standards should be prevalent within the VoIP/ITP and network device equipment. Choose a VoIP vendor that supports protocols such as H.323 and SIP.
7. Examine the platform architecture of a VoIP/IPT platform Does the vendor use a proprietary underlying OS or a familiar architecture such as MS Windows or Linux? Does it require certain management applications or is it Web or Command Line (CLI) based? An architecture or management platform that people are familiar with should be a strong selling point.
8. Adopt a modular solutions architecture A modular approach means a deployed, distributed solution across a converged network organisation-wide, while still managing it as a single entity. This approach brings real benefits in terms of resilience and flexibility, while still meeting technical and budgetary requirements.
9. Converge data and network principals into one As IP is the transport mechanism, the underlying network can be made resilient and fault tolerant relatively transparently to IP applications. Therefore, using redundant and load-balanced routes (data network principal), along with distributing voice connections across multiple locations (voice networking principal), are just some of the principals pulled from two network types into one.
10. Look for a roadmap with forward vision Insist that your vendor of VoIP/IPT systems or voice network services provides a clear development roadmap, as the future of the solution could have a dramatic impact on the development of your business. Roadmaps should also take full advantage of open standards such as SIP, H.323 for applications, enhanced services such as QoS and different access strategies such as Ethernet, XDSL and wireless for network connectivity.