Converged networks have become increasingly popular despite the ‘wait and see’ attitude of many businesses, allowing them to leverage the cost benefits of a single network for voice, data and video. However, there are a number of issues that need to be taken into consideration when embarking on the shift from disparate networks to a converged environment.
For one, how do you effectively monitor and optimise a network that carries a myriad of applications, which include multimedia e-mail, instant messaging, web and video conferencing and unified collaboration?
Furthermore, how do ensure that your converged network continues to support business processes as opposed to hampering them? The benefits of converged networks are apparent, but making the most of them remains the challenge.
It is important that organisations clearly define their business goals and ensure that these are understood by the information communication technology (ICT) team. Therefore, continuously checking whether the design of the converged network is meeting requirements is a must.
Quality of Service (QoS) metrics is one important consideration; it should be developed properly from inception. Analyst at the Yankee Group, Vanessa Alvarez, comments that QoS is the most important aspect of a converged network. “QoS metrics are the primary building blocks of your overall quality of service strategy,” she says.
This brings us to the next point: managing your converged network. In
order to do so you will need a converged management solution that will allow you to, in real-time, prioritise voice on the data network.
In essence, a converged management solution should provide you with the ability to troubleshoot a vast array of performance issues, monitor the network and applications, optimise the delivery of VoIP services, analyse response time, and perform capacity planning.
A converged management tool will show you which types of traffic – legitimate business processes, employee productivity applications like voice and personal usage such as streaming radio or even video – use the most bandwidth. This in turn will enable the ICT team to determine how much more, if any, bandwidth your organisation needs to appropriately expand the network, as well as mould utilisation policies.
Whilst converged networks encompass voice, video and data – voice is and remains the number one priority as the gains, from a cost perspective, are significant.
Therefore, to get the most from your converged network you have to ensure that voice is prioritised with the help of business strategy and physical implementation of QoS procedures and converged network performance management solutions.– Stuart Cohen, sales manager at KSS Technologies (Opinion Piece)