Five Things You Need To Know About VoIP - InformationWeek

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1/30/2006
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Five Things You Need To Know About VoIP

Thinking of moving to VoIP, or you've already made the switch? Here's some of the things you need to know about efficiency, security, scalability, and how VoIP can help make your company look cool.

As you consider how to best use VoIP on your network, there are five important concepts you should keep in mind, according to Jon Arnold, who operates J. Arnold & Associates, a Toronto, Ontario-based VoIP analyst firm.

1. The VoIP-enabled network includes voice and data

"With VoIP, you have to get away from the idea that voice is one thing and data is another," Arnold says. "With VoIP, voice is just another application. The concept of a converged network is a complex beast."

While it might be acceptable to take down a corporate network for maintenance or upgrades, this typically isn't acceptable when voice is included. Voice conversations by their very nature need to be real time. Even a relatively small amount is generally considered to be unacceptable, let alone any full-scale outage of voice communications.

"Voice is real time, data is not," Arnold says.

While network outages are bad enough themselves, particularly as network uptime becomes more mission critical in business operations, business all but comes to a complete stop with of delays or the complete outage of voice communications. So planned network outages need to be scheduled when voice communications aren't needed. Based on the same reasoning, backup systems are more critical once voice is added to the network. Additionally, companies should consider maintaining at least some traditional voice communications capability as a backup.

2. Remember to use new efficiencies By installing VoIP, an enterprise has voice and data running on the same technology, potentially providing significant cost savings. But to maximize those savings, an enterprise needs to eliminate redundancies. The first and foremost is the technology redundancies, like line charges (outside of what might be retained for backup/emergency purposes, as mentioned above), hardware and software systems related to traditional voice, etc.

But another redundancy companies may have after going to VoIP is in staffing. An enterprise with voice and data networks tends to maintain IT staff to handle each because few technicians have expertise in both types of systems, Arnold says. With VoIP, an enterprise no longer needs to employ traditional telecom IT staff. However, any retained IT staff needs to understand voice applications that operate under VoIP.

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