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Avoid These Mistakes Implementing Enterprise VoIP

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 12:45
Avoid These Mistakes Implementing Enterprise VoIP

Proper planning is key to any enterprise VoIP implementation.  It is vital that an in-depth analysis be performed on your current network and modifications made as needed to ensure a smooth VoIP rollout.  Once a decision is made to migrate to VoIP, oftentimes it’s ‘full-steam ahead’ without considering that ‘laying a good set of tracks’ is vital for a solid communications network.  With a new system, performance improvements are expected.  

Implementing an enterprise VoIP solution

To meet or exceed expectations, be sure to review and avoid these common mistakes:

Inadequate Infrastructure

When considering an enterprise VoIP installation, it is vital to review the current state of the communication and network infrastructures. A detailed network analysis should be performed and as a result, it should be determined whether changes need to be made.  

Ask these questions:

  • Should voice and data networks be combined or configured on separate networks?
  • Is the correct cabling laid across the network? (CAT5e minimum, CAT6, or CAT6a are best)
  • Have you tested all cabling for any noise, or possible pinches or compressions? (Cabling should not exceed 100 meters in length, and should terminate in a solidly wired patch panel)
  • Do you have the proper network infrastructure components in place?  Be sure that:
    • Daisy-chained switches have been removed – these can cause major slowdowns in network traffic, affect QoS, and cause unpredictable results.
    • All network hubs have been removed, as they can cause additional slowdowns and bottlenecks.
    • You are using single layer 3 PoE (Power over Ethernet) Gigabit Switches.  These switches allow for the delivery of data and power over a single line, instead of requiring desk phones to use both ac adapters and data lines.
    • Internet routers are in place to provide a fast enough connection that will be sufficient and accommodate all data and voice traffic.
    • You don’t skimp on a good quality firewall, since configuration options and security features can affect every aspect of your network traffic.
    • You’re aware whether any special equipment is truly required, such as session border controllers.  
    • You know whether desk phones or softphones can be used anywhere with an internet connection.
    • You use enterprise-level anti-virus software on all servers and client PCs, or install some kind of network appliance.
    • A business-class, server-based, spam-filtering appliance or hosted spam-filtering solution is implemented.
    • Bandwidth usage is monitored to prevent bottlenecks that can occur as a result of streaming radio and large downloads.

Follow these best practices:

  • Require dedicated bandwidth for your SIP trunks, with dynamic bandwidth allocated when needed, and priority given to voice traffic.
  • Use QoS routers end-to-end, with a QoS router on the provider’s end as well.
  • Ideally, you want to install separate switches for both data and voice connections.

Deficient Disaster Recovery

Much more so than traditional PBX phone systems, hosted VoIP systems can be easily configured to allow for redundancy, fault tolerance, and business continuity in the event of a disaster or outage.  It is important to know what disaster recovery and business continuity options exist for your new enterprise VoIP installation.  

Some VoIP solutions may require additional software and configuration measures to ensure that their systems will switch-over to a cell phone or alternate location if an interruption in business communication were to occur, and others have disaster recovery options bundled as part of their enterprise VoIP solution.  

If possible, implement 2 distinct WAN pipes, such as cable as the primary service and DSL as the secondary service, so that if the primary is unavailable, you can switch over to the backup internet service.

Second-rate Security

Enabling proper security protocols is critical for a successful enterprise VoIP implementation.  Without first-rate security tools in place, denial of service attacks, phishing for information that can lead to identity theft, SPITing (spamming over internet telephony), and eavesdropping of confidential conversations and data can take place.  Moreover, there are many other security risks to enterprises, including loss or theft of mobile devices and general vulnerabilities that make companies susceptible to hacking.

In addition to adding or improving the security hardware and software safeguards as mentioned in the infrastructure section above – using quality firewalls, routers, switches, and spam and virus filtering – there some other considerations to make when properly securing your enterprise VoIP environment.  For instance, is your organization required to guarantee performance to HIPAA or other compliance standards?  Also, your network team may opt to configure VLANs to help better secure your network as well.

Very Poor VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) Standards

Along with the potential issues above, neglecting to measure and monitor Quality of Service (QoS) standards in your new VoIP environment can be a huge mistake.  Call quality is critical, especially in enterprise VoIP setups that involve a call center.  

To avoid call quality pitfalls, be sure to consider, measure, and monitor the following:

  • Bandwidth: how large your pipeline is; measured in download and upload speeds
  • Latency: how fast a connection link you have to another call
  • Jitter: the timing gaps between data packets sent out across internet lines
  • Packet loss: losing any data packets can cause a noticeable reduction in call quality

With a high volume of inbound and outbound calls, call centers need to be sure they have a proper amount of bandwidth; otherwise, you may encounter jitter or customer service delays.

It is vital that organizations deploy a solid infrastructure that is optimized for VoIP, from detailed bandwidth and network analysis, to proper traffic routing and QoS measures.  In general, wired solutions like cable and fiber vs. wireless VoIP solutions will provide the best QoS in each category above.  Upload speeds are key to good QoS.  And better QoS equates to an improved calling experience when implementing enterprise VoIP.

Substandard Support

A factor that is often overlooked when implementing enterprise VoIP is the availability of quality, low cost (or included) support.  Your enterprise will want to ensure that 24 x 7 x 365 support is available, and staffed with knowledgeable engineers.  Also, be sure to carefully review your contract to avoid racking up large fees in unexpected support costs.  

Other important questions to ask regarding support:

  • Will I be able to obtain my own web portal for administration?  Are there additional costs for moves, adds, changes?
  • How quickly is hardware and software updated and new technologies implemented?  (Be sure your VoIP partner is a market leader, on the cutting-edge of technology offerings.)
  • Be conscious of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) – what has been promised and paid for.

In conclusion, to ensure a successful enterprise VoIP implementation, be sure to follow these guidelines: install and configure the correct equipment for your infrastructure, optimized for VoIP, put disaster recovery safeguards into place, properly secure your voice and data network, implement high QoS standards, and don’t settle for anything less than the highest level of support.  Laying these tracks properly guarantees a smooth ride along the VoIP implementation Express!

With nearly 20 years of delivering VoIP Unified Communications solutions, including voice, data, and video as cloud-based applications and services, and postitioned as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS for five consecutive years, West Unified Communications Services has an unrivaled understanding of the needs of today’s complex enterprise.

Our teams work with clients to integrate advanced processes and hard-won insights, solving immediate problems and helping to shape client’s use of technology to create the competitive advantage that springs from truly collaborative communications environments.

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