Expert Level Tips on Deploying Enterprise VoIP

Tips on Deploying Enterprise VoIP

VoIP deployments continue to gather momentum, but enterprise users are faced with daunting challenges and considerations. Our research and review of the most prevalent expert level recommendations could be helpful to avoid unnecessary issues on the path to deployment.

Assess Your Network and Security Infrastructure.

Are firewalls, IDSes, and VPNs optimized for voice and advanced security compliant? To maintain a proper level of security, network requirements for VOIP are necessarily advanced. Your current or former traditional “static policy rules” are essentially inadequate for robust VoIP traffic control. Advanced protocols will dynamically allocate ports during call setup, requiring the opening and closing of ports at the security gateway on demand level. Inspection of VoIP traffic not only at the network layer, but also at the application level is necessary to deal with the challenges of VoIP protocols in Network Address Translation (NAT) environments. Bandwidth, latency and quality of service also become critical requirements for network and security infrastructure, when processing multiple simultaneous voice streams.

Analyze Your Enterprise Risks to Endpoint Security

Will your proposed system present a risk to your enterprise customers? Will it risk your reputation?

Lowering telecommunications costs are a major justification for VoIP deployments. This is especially prevalent since there are an abundance of newer innovative services that traditional telecoms providers don’t provide. It’s also a major reason why Solutions Integrators are tasked with delivering solutions for this type of service. Unfortunately, many Solutions Integrators have minimal control over the VoIP SPs that are available to connect Enterprise customers.

When it comes to security, shortcuts are tempting but should be avoided. Implementing a trusted, credible, tested and proven VoIP SP partnership is the way to go. Next, build a rapport with the VoIP SP, and establish a dialog about the security expectations you have and the confidence you will expect in their products, services and voice QOS level.

Establish Accurate Goals and Objectives for VoIP Setup and Deployment

Most Enterprise customers are likely aware that VoIP provides an Internet Protocol handset where a group of facilities are utilized to operate and transmit voice data via the Internet. Most importantly, having a credible, interoperability-tested and proven VoIP SP partner that you trust is crucial. Establish a rapport with the VoIP SP, then build a confidence in their products, services and voice QOS level. Maintaining this relationship and knowing that the service will benefit all enterprise stakeholders is equally important. Solutions Integrators can further enhance their credibility providing Business Case Studies of their deployments that document their offering to more enterprises. Establishing mutual confidence is the key.

Analyze VoIP Costs and Benefits vs. Conventional Public SWITCHED Telephone Networks

With VoIP, international calls are not expensive. In addition, VoIP provides voice coding techniques which are acceptable for all networks. When done right, VoIP offers confidentiality and security in communications. It also makes use of cryptography and encryption methods to provide security for voice communications. It’s interesting to note that VoIP was originally introduced in voice communication as a means to overcome the problems in circuit switched networks. When you switch to an IP based communications system, it increases productivity and allows time to focus on more important business matters than IT. Enterprise users can spend less money on travel by using online conferencing and other robust tools for better collaboration. Employees will have more ways to stay connected with easier ways to maintain access to the network, whether at work or at home. Using a VOIP client, users can select region codes and telephone numbers.

VoIP Components and its Requirements

The main network components of VoIP are basically equal in function to the switched network of the circuit. VoIP networks should handle all of the functions as PSTN does, and also able to perform the function of the gateway to the existing public network. VoIP architecture involves many components which aid in communication. The components are:

1. Ethernet Switch:

The Ethernet Switch receives the data and checks for the data or voice before passing it to the destination. The computer networks in a home, office or college make use for transferring data by utilizing Ethernet protocol. This switch is an essential device for the customer’s network, and it makes the connection process easier.

2. Gateway:

The device that changes fax and voice calls in real time between the PSTN and an IP network. The most important functions of a VoIP gateway include voice and fax compression/decompression, call routing and control signaling. Some features also include added interfaces to external controllers, such as Soft switches or Gatekeepers and billing systems.

3. Router:

A router is a device in computer networking that forwards data packets to their destinations, based on their addresses. The work done by a router is called routing, which is somewhat like switching, but a router is different from a switch. The latter is simply a device to connect machines to form a LAN.
– Firewall: A firewall is a small part of the software which is mixed with hardware in some situations to protect from unauthorized access of a private network. A firewall normally blocks useless traffic data from inside to outside of the network and vice versa.

What Network Design Skills and Tools Are Required for Successful Enterprise Deployments?

The network design aspects should be accomplished in a manner so that future technologies are easily and seamlessly integrated. But there are always issues while dealing with the voice transmission. The major factor that contributes to the VOIP architecture in an organization is the network infrastructure. Delays are usually present in the VOIP network architecture and it’s one of the main criteria for VOIP network performance. The delay depends upon various factors like network set up, distance between the caller and receiver, total number of users accessing the network, type of network in use and the equipment that is deployed.

There are many call monitoring and management tools to be considered in system designs and they are both software and hardware based. Hardware-based tools can be expensive and difficult to deploy. Monitoring software is best utilized, including for call recording, monitoring call conversations, VoIP call center functions, call recording backup, remote access, reporting with graphic displays of call activity and others to deliver high quality. All software and hardware concepts should to be analyzed during the network design phase.

The hardware components should be given greater importance, since they are usually more difficult to deploy, take more time, are expensive and become obsolete. The basic hardware components, including routers, gateways and other participating devices are also configured accordingly. Sometimes a phenomenon known as “jittering” can be caused due to time variations and improper routing techniques. Routers are also configured accordingly, to minimize the jittering effect.

Impact of VOIP Deployment

Maintaining different networks can be expensive, both at the beginning of deployment and while the system is functioning. Other than cost-cutting and staff reductions, running data and voice on the single network will provide a certain level of uniform service with Enterprise level communication. This leads the way for further business applications like unified messaging, which combines data, video and voice. The network must be able to control both data and voice to maintain quality. Other important considerations which can be taken into account are flexibility, scalability and reliability of the network. VoIP presents Enterprise users with many choices, including checking phone calls through a computer while traveling, or having an email sent every time for a new voice mail message.

Proposed Architecture

VoIP can be deployed in many different network segments. It has been mostly deployed in the backbone and for enterprise networks. Deploying VoIP as an end-to-end Next-Generation Network solution introduces additional constraints and resulting issues. Many additional components are being developing daily to increase the effectiveness of VoIP architecture and the systems that are deploying VoIP. VoIP architecture and systems can be limited to work not more than two systems, with many of the business departments of the Enterprise striving hard to implement the VoIP architecture between different networks. In many common situations, the proposed architecture consists of:

1. PBX Replacement:

A variety of platforms are available to interface a system onto a voice network, which includes the Intel architecture, and the acceptance of a PBX replacement to be built using available components. Linux creates an ideal platform for this type of hardware, due to its inherent stability, as well as being able to provide for the magnified network capabilities that a VoIP installation requires, including QoS at the 802.11 VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) and IP level support for segmentation of an Ethernet network.

2. Media Servers:

In a Packet cable environment and other VoIP networks a media server processes and generates media streams. In Internet and online communication, the media server processes all multimedia applications, such as call distribution, on-demand faxing, e-mail programs and others. In VoIP specific applications, the media server handles all functions related to tasks such as decoding tones, bridging multiple streams, processing scripts, and recording audio.

3. Gatekeepers:

The Gatekeeper provides communication for clients. These are specifically clients that use Gatekeeper compliant applications. Net Meeting is an application example. The Gatekeeper receives client requests and then checks whether the requests are authorized or not. If they are authorized, the Gatekeeper routes the request to the proper address.

VoIP functions in a better way when compared to other technologies, since architecture designers take more steps while designing the VoIP architecture by including various technologies and techniques.

Quality of Service (QoS)

Benefits like cheaper call rates, mobility and wireless features are typically expected from a high quality of service for VOIP. Traffic is one of the main areas that deserves focus and high consideration. The things to be considered in the VOIP transmission are end-to-end delay and packet loss, including the end-to-end packet delays such as coding, packet and also network delay.

Recommended guidelines for providing a better QoS to Enterprise clients:

  • Packet loss should be less than one percent
  • One-way latency must be inside 150ms
  • Jitter should be lesser than 30m

Impact of different carrier technologies on VoIP system effectiveness

VoIP has existed for years and has already faced many challenges with emerging and existing technologies. There are also many carrier technologies that have an impact on VoIP positively or negatively. Among the technologies always assessed are Wi-Fi and Wi-Max. Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, is an established and mainstream technology with wireless which allows connectivity between two or more devices wirelessly for data sharing purposes. Wi-Fi is a very transportable connectivity technology for business, individual, or for long-distance. The voice traffic is highly sensitive to latency and frame loss; users are immediately aware of the disturbances and are intolerable to small degradation in voice call quality. During the design aspect of the VoWi-Fi networks all the worst case scenarios should be considered at their most vulnerable initial points. The bandwidth of the spectrum is reduced while using VoWi-Fi. The disadvantages with Wi-Fi married to VoIP can be are so severe if deployment is not carefully planned for. As a result, during the design aspect of VOIP, all of the worst case scenarios like degradation in voice quality and other factors should always be considered.

The bottom line is that you must be mindful of all issues and considerations affecting your Enterprise VoIP deployment. The planned deployment need not be complex or issue-plagued as long as due diligence is undertaken. Good luck!