Unified communications & collaboration (UC&C) is taking over the legacy communication phone systems by storm due to its efficiency, scalability and ease of use. But, if the enterprise IP network is not robust, the deployment could be a disaster and the remedial measures way too expensive. In order to be prepared for such deployments, enterprises must conduct the due diligence to examine network readiness and ensure business continuity even at maximum load.
In order to prepare for a successful UC&C deployments, there are four key areas that enterprises should asses:
- Invest in Enterprise-Grade Routers, Switches and Upgrade Wireless Infrastructure
Enterprise-grade routers and switches are a must for UC&C applications as they enable high throughput required for high definition voice and video collaboration. In preparation of the deployment, enterprise must plan for a minimum of two ports per user – one each for data and voice.
If there is one port for both the phone and the PC, then Wi-Fi enabled phones should be purchased. Make sure “QoS” or Quality of Service is enabled on routers and switches to give voice and video traffic priority over data traffic such as email, web browsing etc.
An upgraded wireless LAN infrastructure is essential to maximize the outcome of UC&C solutions. With UC&C’s real time voice, video and collaboration capabilities, a secure and high performance wireless infrastructure enables mobility, richer user experience and seamless connectivity across any channel, device and location, in turn improving productivity and customer engagement. Therefore, the wireless infrastructure should be upgraded to 802.11ac so it can accommodate growing number of users, devices and applications, while enabling seamless roaming and coverage at the same time.
- Monitor Network Latency
Enterprises should monitor their network latency to ensure it is lower than 100-150 milliseconds. Lower the network latency, more seamless is the connectivity. This is especially desirable in a UC&C environment where conferencing and collaboration are real-time functions and disruptions can significantly impact productivity and critical business communications.
Further, partitioning WAN traffic and controlling allocation of bandwidth to business critical applications and recreational applications ensure high quality of performance. Towards this, UC&C solutions with dynamic QoS policies, that can optimize traffic at application and per session level, facilitate undisrupted flow of latency-sensitive critical business applications.
- Perform Capacity Study, Monitor Usage and Estimate Future Capacity
The type of internet connection that an enterprise has will dictate the efficiency of the UC&C solution deployed. VoIP phones require high upload speed so users do not have to experience poor voice quality, drop calls or frequent metallic sounds. This is more critical if there are branch offices that the enterprise has to deal with. Further, WAN connections with high bandwidth are required for remote users for seamless communications and collaboration. Enterprises should create an inventory list of analog phones, IP phones, desktop UC clients, mobile devices with UC clients, and video collaboration users; and conduct a capacity study based on current and futures, as well as monitor traffic to ensure the network is sized properly for new UC&C deployments.
- Proactively Update Network Security
Network security is vital to any enterprise. Outdated security protocols can result in data breaches, especially with Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) becoming a strong and more acceptable practice within organizations. With security threats becoming more complex and sophisticated, VoIP-aware firewall installation at critical points in the network, strong authentication and encryption will help minimize attacks from hackers as well insiders. As part of network readiness plans, enterprises should revisit their access control policies and have solutions that are more suited for a mobile workforce. Towards this, WLAN solutions with in-built intrusion detection capabilities extend safety of the network infrastructure, and UC solutions with built-in Session Border Controller prevent enterprises from VoIP DoS attacks and fraud.
All it takes for a new solution to fail is one unplanned move. Preparedness and modernization go hand-in-hand. A good checklist before the deployment of UC&C solutions will result in strong performance, quicker return on investment and a rich user experience.