|IP Telephony: The Last Frontier
The communications industry is moving towards a global standard “IP everywhere” environment for voice and data communications. These systems reduce telephony charges, capital costs and management and administrative costs; they reduce complexity and ease the integration of voice applications with other business systems. Successful implementation of these systems depends upon setting and focusing upon internally agreed upon business goals and the choice of suppliers to guarantee delivery capacity, operational quality, and long term support and scalability of the solution.
Unexplored Territor? The rapid transition of the communications industry is into an IP everywhere environment is delivering enormous productivity gains, improved integration, and a new suite of business application. The power of this new IP everywhere environment is enabling the convergence of voice and data communications. This telecommunication infrastructure platform is becoming, step by step, a global standard. Also, IP voice communications is rapidly gaining market acceptance and is being deployed across IP infrastructures in companies of all sizes. The transition to a pure IP environment will obviously have important implications for IT organizations, such as an unique telecommunication infrastructure, lowest total cost of ownership, necessity of new skills, just to list a few. IP voice communications is already providing hundreds of enterprise customers with a superior alternative to the legacy PBX system. It’s happening faster than we can suppose. The newest generation of IP voice systems provides excellent voice quality and reliability, improving the levels of application integration, scalability, and manageability. These features make this new technology compelling to forward looking organizations seeking to improve customer relations in the Internet age. As network convergence continues to become a reality in the enterprise, many IT managers will take on increasing responsibility for voice communications. For many IT professionals, voice communications is a new area of responsibility, especially here in Brazil. Considering voice and data as an unique infrastructure the enterprise will achieve the full benefits of a pure IP network. There are plenty of reasons for implementing an IP based voice communications system: · Reduce long-distance telephony charges · Lower capital costs · Lower management and administrative costs · Reduced complexity · Improved integration of distributed business entities and · Simplicity to combine voice applications with other business systems But for many decision makers, the key driver is the opportunity to gain competitive advantage by deploying such applications. For instance, with the promise of improving the quality and value of integrated voice and data communications, business will more effectively leverage internal business processes leading to more effectively managed external customer relationships. To define a coherent strategy, business decision makers, IT and communications professionals will need a firm grasp of both voice and data communications and understand how such technologies and standard support combine with the enterprise goals. Many companies have successfully made the journey that you are now, probably, just beginning. You can learn from their success. One of your major challenges will be the design, deployment and integration of new technologies. As you begin your journey toward network convergence, start by building consensus on the key issues, objectives and strategies. Even at this early stage, you will encounter different perspectives regarding the goals and the implementation of the project. First, it’s important to reach agreement on the desired business outcomes of the project before you begin, then stay focused on these objectives as long as they make sense for your business. Second, make sure that your choice of supplier was established based on three key decision points: 1. Delivery Capacity – Since this is a new technology, it is mandatory to look for a strong company with good reputation for its mastery and knowledge of IP 2. Operational Quality – Your company will need a high level of commitment. To maintain this commitment, and your reputation, post-implementation operational problems need to be minimized 3. Business Continuity – Will your supplier be here two or three years from now, will he survive? If you have doubts, eliminate them from your list. Complex solutions require a high level of commitment, staying power and a long-term contract. With this in mind, consider the following tips to help your project succeed: 1. Establish clear goals that are more about business outcomes than about technologies. Let everyone involved have a hand in deciding the objectives… 2. Keep your goals in sight and make sure everyone involved supports them 3. Build cross- function, IT driven, project team with clearly defined ownership, 4. Be sensitive to the reality of politics, but don’t let it interfere with the mission 5. Work with vendors / partners who are as committed to your success as you are 6. Never forget your customers – if possible involve them in the project 7. Seek insights from your key internal users – e.g.: receptionists, workgroup and call agents 8. Keep a constant eye on hidden costs, especially resource usage and heavy service costs 9. Don’t compromise on quality and reliability, if there is downtime, your business goes on hold 10. Build scalability, your infrastructure must continue to support business growth Creating answers together is the key to achieving a successful implementation process. Telecommunications Department, Information Technology and the business drivers should all have the same vision. Understand your business needs, choose the right IP telecommunication supplier and keep tight control over the implementation in order to successfully complete your journey into a new world of possibilities. New Words Services IPsec and MPLS The IP-based virtual private network (VPN) is rapidly becoming the foundation for the delivery of New World services, and many service providers are offering value-added applications on top of their VPN transport networks. Emerging services such as e-commerce, application hosting, and multimedia applications will enable service providers to generate new incremental revenue and maintain long-term competitive advantages. Two unique and complementary VPN architectures based on IP Security (IPsec) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) are the technological foundations for these services. The service goal is to provide customer connectivity over a shared infrastructure, while offering the same facilities of a private network. A VPN solution must therefore be secure from intrusion and tampering, deliver mission critical data in a reliable and timely manner, and be manageable. The essential attributes of a VPN can divided into five broad categories: · Scalability: Must be scalable across VPN platforms with sizes ranging from a small office configuration through the largest enterprise implementation on a global scale. The ability to adapt the VPN to meet changing bandwidth and connectivity needs is crucial in a VPN solution. Additionally, in the fiercely and competitive and dynamic market environment, large orders can be won and can be provisioned rapidly, hence the VPN must be highly scalable in order to accommodate unplanned growth and changes driven by customer demand. This attribute is quite important to help companies keep a step ahead in the competitive arena, giving them the flexibility needed to rapidly change their infrastructure. · Security: Ensures business critical traffic remains confidential via security mechanisms such as tunneling, encryption, traffic separation, packet authentication, user authentication and access control. · Quality of Service: Ensures prioritization of mission critical or delay sensitive traffic and manages congestion across varying bandwidth rates. Quality of service (QoS) functions such as queuing, network congestion, avoidance, traffic shaping, and packet classification, as well as VPN routing services utilizing an optimal routing protocol. QoS is the heart of IP-VPN network, enabling companies to share their infrastructures for voice and data, critical and non-critical applications, and cost reduction. · Manageability: Essential for cost-effective provisioning, to enforce security, QoS policies, management and billing with advanced monitoring and automated flow-through systems to quickly rollout new services and support service level agreements (SLA). · Reliability: For predicable and extremely high service availability that business customer expect and require. This is mandatory for business continuity. Although many service providers can deploy one or other of these VPN architectures to support new world value-added services, greater benefits can be realized when we use all these technological resources together. Conclusion Simply put, a well-executed, comprehensive VPN service offering may leverage both IPsec and MPLS. Service provider may choose IPsec for traffic that needs strong authentication and confidentiality and chose MPLS for its broader connectivity, traffic engineering, and QoS compared with traditional Layer 2 private data networking. A combination of these architectures, managed by a leading global supplier, enables a user to offer differentiated new world services that cover the spectrum of customer requirements for security, QoS and traffic priorization.