VOIP tips from the trenches

Officials at The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich., and Electronic Data Systems Corp. in Plano, Texas, said they learned the following lessons while deploying Dow's global voice over IP (VOIP) network:

  • Deploy new capabilities across the entire enterprise when they are ready. EDS began the Dow project with the philosophy of completely upgrading a given site all at once to minimize disruption to that site. "However, we learned that deploying new capabilities one at a time across the entire Dow organization actually made more sense," says Mark Sherman, EDS client delivery executive. The reason: It's actually less disruptive to make a particular capability available throughout the network at one time because that reduces incompatibility issues when one site is outfitted with a function but others aren't.
  • Study the existing setup at each site on the network. Sherman and DowNet program manager Ray Warmbier both advise conducting a full site assessment at each corporate location. Network managers need to understand the current dial plan so they can maximize the consistency of the features and phone numbers that were in place before the change and minimize disruption to users as they map the existing dial plan to the IP network.
  • Learn the regulations of all of the countries the network covers. Warmbier notes that regulatory restraints in certain countries where public networks are still largely government-owned preclude running VOIP and also prohibit management of an enterprise network by a third party. In those countries, he says, Dow is not yet able to reap the savings associated with toll bypass and must install and maintain the network equipment itself.
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