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Feature Article
December 2004

A Blueprint To Convergence: Steps Three To Six: Execution

BY Tony Rybczynski

In the previous two articles we identified two key steps towards convergence: Understanding where the biggest bang for your buck is, and identifying requirements for your targeted convergence project (e.g., mobile users, new building). Here we look at the next four steps in a blueprint for convergence.

STEP 3: Network Evaluation and Risk Assessment
IP telephony rides as an application on top of a wired or wireless IP network. The network has to therefore consistently deliver the security, connectivity, bandwidth, and delay performance required by IP telephony users. As this stage, you need to perform both an evaluation of your network capabilities and assess the potential impact to your business of implementing a converged network. Lessons learned by our customers in moving towards convergence in the LAN, WAN, contact center, and wireless LAN environments were covered in this column in September, October, and December 2003, and May 2004, respectively.

STEP 4: Solution and Vendor Selection
At this stage, you need to define a number of evaluation criteria, commonly divided into four main categories: functionality, cost, services, and vendor vision and viability; each of these being weighted by importance. Whether you will solicit a directed bid or pursue an RFP (Request for Proposal), these evaluation criteria will help you streamline the selection process. Let’s examine each category to ensure that your organization selects a solution that meets your short and long-term needs.

The functionality requirements should have been defined in an earlier phase. Here you need to assess whether the proposed solution meets your application and client requirements. You may also ask whether the vendor has demonstrated that the proposed solution meets your defined business objectives and target benefits, and identified resource and organizational impacts through the implementation and operational phases of the project. The network management solution should allow you to separately manage the network and the IP telephony service.

Many vendors offer business case or total cost of ownership tools to assist you in the cost analysis of the solution. These tools generally provide information for total cost of ownership for the telephony application. In addition, you should include any upgrades (e.g., Power over Ethernet) to the underlying networking infrastructure. These should allow you to compare the total cost of ownership for various solutions, including the degree to which you can leverage your current investments.

Some vendors may propose using their own resources through planning, design, implementation, and management; others may choose to work with a business partner for delivery. The vendor selection criteria will differ based on the model. You should consider the qualifications of the implementation staff and the pricing models for assessment and implementation services offered. It’s equally important to look at post-sales support including Help Desk, hours of coverage, escalation procedures, and of course pricing.

Vendor viability
Vendor selection should consider whether the convergence solution is a new vendor offering or an established one, with customer references, that has evolved over years of investment. The vendor should be able to provide a roadmap of the future evolution of its convergence solution based on open standards. It may be important to select a vendor having a strong position in both carrier and enterprise markets, giving you the flexibility to choose to build your own solution or procure a managed or hosted service. If more than one vendor meets all criteria equally well, you may want to evaluate each vendor based on a laboratory trial. Once you’ve decided which vendor’s solution best fits your needs, you’re ready to move on to Step 5.

STEP 5: Deployment and Implementation
How you decide to deploy and implement new infrastructure, as well as new applications or services to end users, will vary greatly based on the scope of the project and the degree of complexity involved. The deployment and implementation of a small site such as a satellite office will likely be quite different than what is required for a large core site with 1,000 users. For larger deployments, a phased approach, including potentially a pilot, is highly recommended to minimize risks and to provide an opportunity to learn while you grow. In addition, the potential business impact can be minimized, by only migrating a subset of users to the new system at any one time.

STEP 6: Project Assessment
As you move towards your first convergence project, it pays to plan ... and plan some more. Likewise, given the fact that convergence is not an all or nothing proposition, it also pays to invest appropriate time to assess each convergence project as it completed. Once the targeted system is up and running, whether it is a pilot or phased deployment or the complete implementation, you will want to assess the performance of the solution from both the user and network perspectives. It is also important that voice and data engineering resources be assigned to ensure that the network continues to meet convergence requirements even as the traffic grows and applications mix changes.

The six-step blueprint for convergence discussed in this and the previous two articles provides a high-level approach for addressing the pragmatic real-world business, operational, and technical challenges you will need to consider as you move forward with your plans for convergence. The key to business success in moving to a converged network is to initially identify a very specific first phase that delivers real business benefit and then approach the execution of this first phase in a systematic manner. You can then build on this success to bring the benefits of converge across the enterprise.

Tony Rybczynski is Director of Strategic Enterprise Technologies at Nortel Networks. He has over 30 years experience in the application of packet network technology. For more information, please visit

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