We’ve heard the old analogy ‘a sturdy house was never built on sand’. The same one could be used in the case of unified communications. The Skype phenomenon, whilst opening up our eyes as consumers to the possibilities of speaking to relatives on the other side of the world, was swiftly discovered as lacking when video calls with head office based on another continent, went ‘dalek’. However, the underlying principles of Unified Communications remain the same, get the connectivity right and you will reap the benefits.
The Need for Speed
Again, thanks to the consumerisation of broadband in our homes, many of us are now savvy enough to know that 1Mpbs doesn’t cut the mustard when downloading a film whilst the kids are playing a web based, computer game on their Xbox. The same goes for Unified Communications. 100Kbps per IP voice is a good rule of thumb, then you just need to work out how many concurrent calls will be taking place either on average or at peak. The resulting bandwidth calculation will be the minimum that should be deployed if you are adding other types of traffic, such as email, virtual desktop, web browsing, etc.
Queue It Up
There will be times when there won’t be enough bandwidth to the end-point location, usually because it’s not economically viable. Hence a useful technique is to prioritise the traffic, placing IP voice at the front of the queue, in other words giving the bouncer permission to let the VIP through first, or in this the VIP VOIP. Typically this is deployed over managed wide area networks (WAN), where traffic is managed end-to-end.
UC It All Makes Sense
When the bandwidth and prioritisation is fit for purpose, it does. Much of the time, when replacing ISDN lines with care levels, DDIs, and other features the commercial viability is also a key tenet of the business case. If in doubt, take advice before implementing UC. I know a good specialist or two working at our humble IT services organisation.