VOIP Best Practices

Tips for a successful voice-over-IP project.

Here are some tips from customers and analysts for a gentler migration to voice-over-IP technology:

  • Conduct an audit of existing technology. Include hardware vintage; cabling infrastructure, from the desktop to the closet to the backbone; the network architecture; redundancy, uninterruptible power and security requirements; and policy management for multiple types of traffic.
  • Recognize that voice trumps data. Because voice quality must be high to persuade users to accept VOIP, data networking professionals must learn to accept that voice traffic must be prioritized over data on corporate networks - a difficult cultural leap for some.
  • Determine bandwidth requirements, and don't be greedy about compressing voice calls. Some suppliers hype 3-to-1 compression, but be satisfied with 2-to-1 or 2.5-to-1 in order to keep service quality high.
  • Understand global government toll-bypass regulations. It may not be legal to offer five-digit dialing for international calls to and from certain countries.
  • Increase network visibility. Use centralized, consolidated network management tools to manage performance.
  • Stick with a single VOIP provider. That will help to avoid finger-pointing among vendors when performance problems erupt. Plus, integrating IP telephony products from multiple vendors is difficult, users say.
  • Keep it open. Choose equipment that's interoperable, and support an open architecture environment. But beware: Some vendors claim that their products are open and interoperable when in fact they're not. So challenge them and get customer references upfront.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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