Advice – Communications for Enterprise

Lets address some points that should be taken under consideration for IT managers looking at packetized communications for their Enterprise.  Below are the highlights and my thoughts:

Highlights

Look For SIP Support

I couldn’t agree more!  SIP is a protocol used to establish, teardown, modify, etc communication sessions.  It’s very diverse and relatively simple when compared to past mechanisms.  Most importantly, it has become the defacto standard within the world of telephony.  There’s native SIP support in nearly all the major vendors that supply VoIP gear. (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Microsoft)

Consider The Benefits Of Hosted PBX

This topic has be discussed numerous times in the past, and even before that within a TDM context (PBX vs. Centrex).  The thing that’s different within an IP context is the feature and functionality available.  When comparing a PBX to a Centrex offering, one key difference was additional feature and functionality in a PBX.  Centrex offerings didn’t have the same “whiz-bang” features.  In today’s Hosted Telephony offerings, there’s near feature parity, so the key determining factor becomes cost of ownership.

Think Unified Communications

VoIP (or Telephony) MUST be seen as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of Unified Communications.  IT managers should consider the roadmap to UC when choosing a Telephony solution.  Real-time communications need to become multi-modal, meaning there should be options to transition communications from IM to voice to video to online collaboration on a document, and then back again – all within the same context and within a common look/feel.

Traversing NAT

Though the issue of Network Address Translation (NAT) is well known to negatively impact SIP sessions, the real point for consideration here for the IT Manager should be around considering the deployment of a Session Border Controller (SBC) within their Enterprise as part of an overall design.

Know & Apply Codecs

There are more ways to packetize voice and video communications than one can shake a stick at.  The author points out the predominant technologies of G.711 and G.729.  Issues of bandwidth consumption and quality of user’s experience must be balanced.  Generally speaking, the more bandwidth consumed, the better the experience.  But the more bandwidth used, the greater the cost to upgrade the LAN/WAN infrastructure to accommodate.  If you skimp on cost, the result would be poor quality, and then adoption and experiences would suffer.  It’s a delicate balancing game.

Some further comments :

• Make sure to have 100k in bandwidth free and available for every conversation when determining whether the enterprise really has enough bandwidth for VoIP.  With multiple calls made from one location a simple DSL  won’t cut it.

• Get VoIP phones that are both wired for Ethernet and wireless for Wi-Fi connectivity. That way, people can wander, and all internal calls within the building are free of charge because they stay on the network. Check the mobile voip solutions, few of them even work without need of data plan.

• Make sure the vendor is going to be around to support the purchase.  An older vendor with roots, commitments, and financial means is an obvious choice. A new vendor with strong management, skills, and reputation who proves out through considered research can also be a sharp choice.

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