Not So Fast

Despite the many benefits of VoIP, there are serious issues to consider before making the leap. Bryan Cohen, a telephony engineer and VoIP expert at CDW Corp. in Vernon Hills, Ill., points out some of them:

1. Think of voice traffic as data. In many respects, VoIP traffic is just like data traffic, so consider issues such as security, availability, power and bandwidth.

2. Know why you want it. Assess the features you need to support your users in terms of productivity, responsiveness and cost, and determine whether VoIP really delivers what your current system cant.

3. Evaluate your networks readiness. Work with an adviser or peer who has gone through a VoIP rollout, to sort through all of the implications and review the pitfalls.

4. Consider your organizations business model. How might an outage affect your business? For a corporate customer service center, for example, you may want to consider a hybrid of VoIP and traditional PBX systems because the telephone is so crucial.

5. Focus on the WAN. Connectivity is everything. Invest in the pipe that will support the VoIP network.

6. Understand the management implications. It might be tempting to create islands of VoIP networks for small, remote offices, for example, but a central system with remote gateways at branch locations offers many management benefits.

7. Try before you buy. The only way to truly know how VoIP will perform on your network is to put it through real-world testing.

8. Think outside the IP telephony box. Consider hidden gotchas, like the need for a Trivial FTP server that updates the phones with patches and features upgrades.

9. Train, train, train. Go through product training before you commit to buying. You may realize that you need some functions you never considered.

10. Be cautious about outsourcing. Outsourcers bring benefits and risks. For example, when you outsource, you cede control of your phone calls to a third party, and you may be limited to the features that the service provider offers.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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