Nigel Jones, Marketing and Business Development Manager for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Activities UK&I believes the first steps for migration to VoIP are to establish a core network backbone.
“This needs to can support the new IP services and in some cases, some of the legacy traffic that must remain. In practical terms this means identifying the most significant costs areas, for both capital expenditure and management overhead.
Depending on the specific needs of the business, the level of resilience and redundancy in the design also needs to be defined. This may vary across the network as not every site may require the highest level of resiliency. This will have a significant influence on the scale and grade of IP connectivity required between locations, and will determine which of the sites require autonomous call processing capabilities.
Nowadays there are numerous methods of providing different levels of IP resiliency without on site CPU call processing. There are various cost options associated with these different approaches, so businesses of all budgets should be able to find a solution to their IP networking needs.”
IP communications lends itself quite nicely to centralising intelligence in the network, with main call control handled at the hub of the network and distributed media gateways located at strategically placed sites. These can support end user services and PSTN network connectivity if required.
Jones, “Establishing a new core IP system at the hub is usually the most logical place to start, and businesses can choose to interconnect some of their legacy systems as part of the gradual migration to IP. Choosing a system that natively supports IP and Legacy TDM protocols is the best way forward as this provides the capability to evolve to pure IP at a pace that suits the business. It also minimises costs and avoids unnecessary add-on converters and servers.
The move to IP should not mean loss of functionality. In fact the opposite should apply and companies should plan for new services – not just for new IP users – but also for some of the existing legacy users on older PBXs.”
Moving to a converged IP solution means that establishing security policies and services from an early stage is mandatory. Again, this does not always mean new secure services are only provided to the users on the new network segments. Overlay services can now be deployed with existing data switches to provide important pre- and post-admission control of users for communications and applications. Essentially, companies can identify who is connecting to the network or application, authenticate the user and then ensure the session is monitored continually.
Nigel Jones concludes, “The migration to a VoIP solution can broadly be summarised as follows: Rationalise the fragmented network, prioritise where IP will have greatest return on the business in the early stages, and establish security policies and services as a foundation for evolution.
Centralise management, directory services and ensure new application services can be accessed from all locations.
Equip users on both the new centralised IP comms server and legacy PBX users with enhanced services. Hybrid IP/TDM links can be utilised if a company isn’t ready to go ‘all IP’.
Use new IP converged networks to not just save PSTN costs, but to help deploy better collaboration tools across the entire estate, providing benefits for both internal and external customer communications.
If the VOIP migration project has ticked all the right boxes, not only will it reduce on-going daily costs and management complexity, VoIP will also provide demonstrable benefits by embedding real time communications within the company’s existing business processes.”