Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of short articles from
Rich Tehrani based on recent visits with a number of VoIP vendors. The
previous article is available here.
Enterprise VoIP is more complicated than legacy PBX
systems. One of the biggest issues is that problems can creep into your
system from so many different places. Routers, hubs, PCs, servers, users,
defective phones, defective computers, cable issues, etc. As you scale IP
telephony, the potential for problems increases greater than scaling a
PBX. Sure, IP telephony allows more flexibility and saves money, but your
network has to be managed correctly. Even if your installation is
flawless, you could hire a few temporary workers that decide to stream
MTV. I don�t have anything against temps by the way� This could happen
with your regular employees as well.
The question becomes, how do you find out about these
problems? If you aren�t running VoIP it probably doesn�t make much of
a difference that your network has degraded in performance by 50 percent.
Voice however, cannot tolerate networks below a certain threshold of
bandwidth. Sure, you can increase compression, but everything has its
limits, including voice compression.
A company I recently met with, Clarus Systems,
has a software product named ClarusIPC Assurance that is designed to help
smooth these and other issues in VoIP installs. Their software allows an
objective voice quality check of IP telephony devices connected to the
network. The software takes control of endpoints and uses these devices to
measure quality. For example, you will be able to find out if a device can
make a call or get dial tone.
Most installations are tested today by going to each
phone and listening for problems. This is a messy and subjective process
that takes time, costs money and is not acceptable. The reason this isn't
a good solution is that you should ideally be checking VoIP devices and
other network elements whenever you change your network configuration or
even more frequently. A simple firewall change could significantly impact
your ability to use VoIP effectively. You don�t want to be the tech that
has the CEO walk into his office because he can�t get dial tone.
The system gives a hierarchical view of the network
and you can think of it as a way of bridging the divide between the data
people and voice people. They also have strong reporting built in,
designed to emulate and improve on the typical PBX reporting packages we
in the voice world are accustomed to. You know -- changes, adds, deletes,
etc. This software can be and is used as a way to keep an audit trail of
your enterprise VoIP. Clarus Systems can�t make VoIP less complicated,
but perhaps they can just make it easier to manage.
Please talk back to
me in our forums.
Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments.
Participate in our forums.
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