VoIP in the enterprise: making the transition from "wow" to dependable

New car, new house, new relationship, new VoIP. All are susceptible to the "cool" or "wow" factor.

New car, new house, new relationship, new VoIP. All are susceptible to the "cool" or "wow" factor. Take it from someone who knows.

This isn't really the place to talk about the first three "wow factor" candidates I mentioned, but it is perfectly appropriate to sing the praises of an article on the Communications Convergence Web site by Bryan Cohen, senior telephony engineer for enterprise technology systems integrator CDW.

Entitled "Choosing VoIP: What Every SMB (Small and Medium Business)Must Know," this is a common sense article that unlike so many others, doesn't try to scare you or warn you out of using VoIP, but take steps to ensure that once the "wow" wears off, you'll have a dependable VoIP system in place.

Cohen offers five suggestions:

  • "Build in network redundancy. It's tough enough to run a business when losing connectivity to e-mail, let alone losing phone service. With VoIP, network redundancy is a must-have to get the network back online and to maintain both e-mail and phone service.



  • "Determine acceptable downtime. Depending on type of business you operate, VoIP may not be the best fit. If a telephone system plays a mission-critical role to your business, nearly 100 percent uptime is not only desirable but also a necessity. Since no network provider can guarantee 100 percent network uptime round-the-clock, the reliability of a digital PBX system may be the better choice.



  • "Have a strong knowledge of both data and voice networks and appropriate IT support. While a company with VoIP doesn't need separate voice and fax circuits or separate telecom and IT departments, it will need to integrate voice/VoIP experts into its IT operations to redesign the Internet backbone for voice, and to help manage and maintain the new VoIP and data network.



  • "Perform an electronic network assessment. The assessment of a company's network should be conducted prior to any purchases. It determines that the network supports Quality of Service (QoS) and the hardware upgrades needed. It also simulates VoIP traffic to demonstrate the effect VoIP will have on other network functions.



  • "Choose a system that will grow with your business. Because the technology changes rapidly, it must: 1) be easy to upgrade 2) have ample bandwidth and connectivity 3) include a plan to integrate Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which provides the framework for delivering voice, video, data and wireless services seamlessly and transparently over a common network, and 4) come from a reputable vendor with staying power.