You’re the IT Manager. It’s a big job. Servers, routers, and firewalls, budget cuts and smaller staff. And then the CEO tells you they have just purchased a new IP phone system and you find yourself switching to VoIP. The sales manager is excited about the unified communications YOU will provide her team. Or maybe the CIO heard about Microsoft Lync and is thinking about using it for IM and presence.
Where do you begin? Can your network handle the additional traffic? Is that traffic any different from the email, web and other application traffic that exists now?
When it comes to switching to VoIP, there are some questions you’ll need to answer. Questions like:
- How many calls does your organization make a day? A Week? A month?
- Do you have a busy time of year?
- What is the highest call volume you have in a 30-day period? When is that usually?
Don’t have the answers to these questions? Then it’s going to be a slow and bumpy ride.
Is it Really Any Different?
The answer to the question asked earlier is, Yes. The VoIP call traffic is different from the email, web and application traffic you already deal with. It’s persnickety and more sensitive to network interruptions.
Luckily, there are tools out there that can make the life of an IT Manager a LOT easier when switching to VoIP. Looks for tools to assess your current phone utilization, test your networks ability to provide quality VoIP calls, and allow you to monitor changes to network performance as the new system is deployed.
Answering that first question of what does your network look like now can be tough. Where do you start? Do you have a call accounting system that can pull numbers for you, like number of inbound, outbound and internal calls per day? Could you ask your VAR or carrier for a traffic study? They’ll usually do it over a week and let you see things like total calls, trunk utilization and so on. Then, based on the codec you’ll be using with the new system, you’ll be able to calculate how much bandwidth you’ll need based on your current traffic patterns.
Once you are ready to choose a system, you’ll want to decide who runs it? Do you and your team answer alerts? Does your VAR? Or is it a combination based on severity, type of alarm, etc?
Find a vendor with a support system you are comfortable with. Ask questions like how much training is available? What type of training is it? Is there a charge?
System optimization is made possible with performance monitoring reports that help ensure that you continue to deliver quality of service and system performance.
The more work you do upfront to get things under control the easier life will be. You’ll look good. The CEO looks good. Win win.