Network Support in the Era of IP Telephony
Networking used to be all about data. In fact, most people still think about data, servers, applications and the PC's that deliver them when they choose a network support provider. Those that do, however, often fail to notice the fundamental shift in the network that has already begun. So what is the future of the business network? And what should you be looking out for to plan ahead to ensure you've made the right decision about service provision for not only today, but for the coming years also? This article will answer these question and offer some advices for those seeking a provider of IT network support or an IP telephony solution.
The biggest change to your business network will no doubt be the implementation of IP telephony and video teleconferencing capabilities. Therefore no longer is the network the domain of data and the internet, but it becomes communications backbone of your business. The convergence of voice, video and data on the one network has great potential. Enabling true worker mobility, slashing travel (and carbon) costs, allowing for enhanced productivity and collaboration, reduced telecommunications costs and greater business intelligence and agility are some of the key promises underpinning the shift.
This sounds great, but in practice many businesses that have begun down this track are facing one key problem. Two once separate service providers, the telephony service provider and the network/IT service provider, now operate on the same platform. A potential nightmare then arises where changes to the data network inadvertently impact the telephony system and vice verse. Solving the problem requires the two providers to be at the same place at the same time, a scenario that is in practice slow and difficult to co-ordinate. So how can this be resolved? Easy. Before you implement IP telephony, choose a network support provider that is able to expertly handle both IP telephony (from a call management perspective as well as traditional QoS) and your data network. The cost of downtime is increasing exponentially as our reliance on the internet increases. The potential savings in consolidating your providers, and therefore reducing response times and management expense, can be huge.
Sure this all sounds pretty simple, just get a provider that does IP telephony well and data networks well and problem solved. After investigating the marketplace however, you'll find there are very few vendors that have had the foresight to provide such an offering. In fact, Cisco Systems is the only real player in this converged network future. They've long been the leaders in networking, having invented the router way back in 1984 and have subsequently become the company synonymous with networking. But luckily they're also at the forefront of IP telephony and video-conferencing, with the vision of providing these services on top of interoperable and fully compatible building blocks of the network thereby providing a previously unavailable single-vendor approach.
In summary, the key points to consider for the selection of an IT network or IP telephony provider/vendor combination is:
- Provider: Networks of the future are converged, it will save much time and money consolidating your providers with one expert at both networking and IP telephony.
- Vendor: Cisco systems offer the only single vendor approach to the converged network, which also reduces support costs due to interoperability, reliability and compatibility of network components.
This article was written by Paul Liebeknecht, Business Development Manager and specialist in Cisco Unified Communications at North Sydney IT. To contact North Sydney IT about your network support and IP telephony requirements, call 1300 783 899.