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Getting the Most from Your Telephony Application Platform

IT professionals tasked with implementing the latest and greatest IP-based telephony services are increasingly turning to applications delivered on a COTS-based appliance platform. One prominent reason behind this trend is that these solutions can deliver substantial cost and performance benefits, especially considering that purpose-built platforms require little or no customization or post-deployment tuning. Appliance platforms are easy to deploy and able to deliver value almost immediately. What IT departments need to remember when considering these devices for their mission-critical telephony applications is that not all appliances are created equal. If the software vendor hasn’t followed certain best practices when building the appliance, the benefits can be easily diminished.

For IT managers responsible for evaluating how to introduce new IP-based telephony services into their enterprise and considering an appliance ecosystem, there are several critical attributes to look for. First, you should understand the potential pitfalls of applications delivered on open servers. This model allows unfettered access to the application and increases the possibility of modifications that may cause the appliance to under perform, fail or increase security exposure. Alternatively, a well-constructed appliance will feature a tuned and “locked down” operating system — optimized for its reduced footprint and maximum performance. This tuning process can be done for both Linux and Windows environments. It’s also important to consider that routine auditing of the operational condition of core appliance elements, including CPUs, power supplies and disk drives can help ensure proper performance over the life of the box. Appliances that can “phone home” and automatically generate a maintenance request in the event of a hardware or software malfunction, crash, runtime error and system boot failure will save the enterprise time and money. Any appliance worth its salt should be able to manage its software application as a holistic image and not just a collection of software parts. In the event of device failure, appliances that feature this capability can be rolled back to a complete pre failure image and quickly restored for proper operation.

Final Score Make sure you’re using appliances that can successfully automate the process of remotely tracking and managing the delivery of updates, patches and other upgrades to boxes deployed in the field, including the OS and all peripheral applications. Evaluating prospective application partners on these criteria will help future-proof your IT infrastructure. IT

Jeff Hudgins is VP of Product Management at NEI, Inc. (

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