This is a useful list of top tips for deploying IP telephony that we developed that I'd like to share with you. I'd be interested to see if anyone else has any additional advice for making IP telephony a success, so please feel free to leave a comment.
1. Don't think of telephony in isolation – consider other requirements from the start
End-user experience with voice in IP telephony can be no different from legacy telephony, leaving users to ask 'What's in it for me?'. The power of IP telephony is that it can be integrated with collaboration tools, such as presence, conferencing and messaging. To take advantage of these, the IP telephony strategy should also incorporate collaboration, unified communications and contact center requirements, otherwise the system may need to be redesigned at a later date.
2. Go global from the outset
Multinational companies looking to deploy IP telephony need to have a global strategy from the outset. But taking a standard global approach doesn't mean that IP telephony should be deployed in a big bang operation. In fact, most organizations would be better placed to replace their telephony infrastructure slowly, but it's important that they have a global strategy for doing it, so that they can ultimately minimize costs and maximize functionality.
3. Think of the different user requirements right at the beginning of the project
Users have different needs in terms of features, quality, employee mobility, and even phone types. High-quality audio is important for sites in emerging countries and is easily delivered through IP telephony with higher bandwidth and high-quality codecs. Conferencing enriched with screen sharing is another common request and web conferencing integration has really taken off in the last couple of years. Consider all these before deciding on a strategy.
4. It's not enough to simply standardize on IP – standardize on a single vendor's equipment
To integrate collaboration applications with IP telephony across the entire organization, it's not enough to simply standardize on 'IP', because not all IP telephony systems are the same. If companies buy equipment from different manufacturers, they will find it hard to run collaboration applications over the top. Instead enterprises need to do what they did in messaging and standardize on a single vendor and architecture globally. This will allow them to enjoy communications-enabled business processes and unified communications. Standardization also provides other benefits, including a consistent global architecture for users, making new application deployments easier, and reducing deployment and support costs.
5. Use current telephony spending to build a business case for IP transformation of telephony
The key approach to building the business case is to identify where the current communications spend is going. Traffic is often the biggest item on the budget; by moving this traffic on the WAN, it is possible to take the spending from that and invest it in refreshing the infrastructure. The 20% largest sites should be optimized first as they generate 80% of the traffic.
6. Do not underestimate the scale of the project
Most legacy telephony infrastructures have been built up organically over the years, making them complex, costly, and difficult to manage and change. Most organizations have over 20 PBX brands; many of these PBXs are over seven years old and people somewhere in the organization are still investing in new ones even if you don't know about it.
7. Use the corporate IP VPN to deliver a global service
IP telephony should be deployed in regional hubs of standardized equipment. By linking these hubs together with a reliable IP VPN, organizations can have access to consistent IP telephony and collaboration applications anywhere in the world. It also will allow them to leverage investments across multiple sites, thereby reducing overall cost.
8. Lack of skills is one of the biggest barriers to IP transformation
Deploying IP telephony is a major undertaking, and the complexity of a global project far exceeds that found in legacy TDM projects. Enterprises considering doing their own IP telephony transformation will discover that it is very difficult to find the necessary skills.
9. The worst thing to do is nothing
Companies need to beat the strategic disconnect between central and local IT organizations. If the latter holds the budget they will do the reverse of the central team's global strategy and replace their PBXs with their favored local vendor. Complete control of telephony needs to given to the central IT department so that it can be transformed – just like it was with email.
10. Don’t overlook VoIP security issues
IP telephony systems need to be designed to address security threats from both the worlds of traditional telephony and IP communications. Traditional threats include toll-fraud and calling card abuse, while the new dangers include viruses, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and software vulnerabilities.
After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.