A 10-Minute Guide to Deploying VoIP

Thinking of rolling out VoIP? It's tougher and more time-consuming than you think. But this 10-Minute guide will give you the rundown on everything you need to know before you

September 30, 2005

8 Min Read
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IP telephony, on the other hand, is a quite a bit more complicated. Disasters can happen and although Pierce points out that VoIP deployments are frequently fraught with peril, it doesn't necessarily have to be that bad. In fact, you can take your first steps toward a successful voice over IP (VoIP) deployment in only ten minutes.

The first step is to make a like a grade school kid and do your homework. "You can never do too much homework." Pierce says. "The most important thing to ask is how are you going to manage this thing? A lot of people have a nice wedding, but how many have a nice marriage? People aren't thinking about what happens after the deployment."

What happens afterwards will ultimately determine whether the VoIP deployment is a success or failure. "You really have to start with a simple question," Pierce says. "What problem are you trying to solve? If you can't give an answer, then you should probably wait. We all know that this is where the technology is going, but 45% of enterprises see no reason to do it at all right now."

While it is important to stay abreast of technological changes and innovations, it's equally important to know what the VoIP can, and can't do for you. It might be the technology du jour, and it might look like everyone is doing it, but that's not reason to do it yourself, unless VoIP is what your organization needs.

If it is, the next step is to do a full network inventory. You can't decide what you need until you know what you have, and too few organizations, says Pierce, actually know what they have. Not only should an inventory count routers and switches, but Pierce says that it should include an assessment of how much traffic is carried on-net and how much is carried off-net, bearing in mind, she says, that "on-net PSTN (public switched telephone network) minutes are the cheapest thing on God's green earth."Although the decision to start an inventory is fairly easy -- delegating someone from IT should take an e-mail and considerably less than ten minutes -- the inventory process itself won't be a picnic. "Doing an inventory -- a real inventory -- can be excruciating," Pierce says. "It's common for multi-site companies to have IT staff at only a few locations, and it's common for the telecom department to be decentralized. But there's no way around it."

One of the benefits of a full system and network inventory, however, is that it could ultimately save you time and money. "You have to be sure to optimize what you have before you re-invent the wheel," Pierce says. "Re-inventing the wheel is both costly and time consuming -- and usually unnecessary."

Only when an organization has done all of its homework is it ready to start asking questions about what kind of VoIP solution to deploy, if at all. Pierce says that its easy to be blinded by the promises in trade magazine advertising, but the promises are rarely realistic, "and you really have to be realistic about it," she says. "The VoIP tools out there are only just becoming good enough for really smart people to use well. That's why so many companies that are doing VoIP are increasingly interested in managed solutions."

It can be a great test of faith to entrust something as mission critical as your telephone system to an outside provider, of course, and whether you have the confidence in outsiders to manage the phones is an important part of the process. The bottom line, says Pierce, is that VoIP is new enough technology that there is a real benefit to being open to new ways of doing things.

"Even though most companies will look at their existing suppliers, they really do owe it to themselves to understand the pros and cons of the different alternatives," she says. "We're not just talking about changing a protocol here; we're changing the architecture."Pilot projects and trials should be an important part of the process, but Piece says that it's a mistake to believe that the new voice network will behave just like a larger version of the trial. It's more important, in fact, to move slowly, identifying who, outside of the IT infrastructure, will be the early adopters, and inviting their input. Even if a company feels the irresistible pressure of obsolescence pushing it into VoIP, there are probably still things about the old system that users like, and they probably have some ideas about what would work better.

Ultimately, the decision to switch over should result in a RFP. This, says Pierce, will define the parameters of the migration and, if it's as detailed as it should be, will account for any unpleasant surprises. There is absolutely no reason to just pick up the phone and order some VoIP from the most convenient supplier. "Companies that don't do RFPs are going to be in a lot of trouble," Pierce says. "This isn't something you should just decide to do in ten minutes."

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2009-08-03T08:43:40Z 2005-09-30T19:42:56Z 2009-08-03T08:43:40Z

It was strangely chilly last night as I strolled through the park. I was grateful I had grabbed my jacket as I pulled the collar up and shoved my hands into my pockets. Thoughts of a warm cup of Starbucks...

tlasusa Other

It was strangely chilly last night as I strolled through the park. I was grateful I had grabbed my jacket as I pulled the collar up and shoved my hands into my pockets. Thoughts of a warm cup of Starbucks Coffee flooded my mind as I passed by the section of the park where alot of homeless hunker down for the night. Most of them were sleeping, or staring off vacantly. As I passed by one particular fellow however, he called up to me in a surprisingly refined British Accent, "Pardon me sir, but would be you be so kind as to spare a few coins?"

I fumbled through my pocket, fishing out a dollar and some change. As I extended my hand I looked into the face of the poor devil before me, and my jaw dropped.

"My god...Jeeves? Is that really you?"Yes, it was none other the familiar valet who greeted web searchers when they arrived at the doorstep of AskJeeves.com. Jeeves' clothes were tattered, his face unshaved. He looked a wreck.

"Indeed," Jeeves replied, trying to muster what dignity he could, "It seems my services were no longer required."

As I sat down on the bench next to the fallen icon, he began to relay his tale. A few days earlier, he had been busy taking care of an inquiry on the site when a call came in. Seems Ask owner Barry Diller made a surprising announcement at an investor conference. "He informed everyone that research results found that internet users were having trouble identifying with me," Jeeves explained, "Apparently, they were confused over what I represented."Jeeves has seen better days.

"What the hell are you talking about?" I said incredulously, "What's there not to understand. You go to the site. You ask a question. You get an answer. Done."

"Ah yes, but as you may be aware, the technology behind the site has changed vastly. Users are no longer limited to asking questions. Our search engine could accommodate many more types of inquiries.""Okay, so?"

"So it appears that my presence no longer fits into the company, and actually hampers people's understanding of what we do."

"You're serious? You're a (expletive) cartoon character!" I yelled, "I don't know ANYONE who has ever gone to your site and gotten confused. Again, you go the site. You put in a question. Or a keyword. Or a shoe size. Whatever. You get the answer you move on."

"I daresay, my enthusiastic friend, that I share your sentiment. But apparently not all web users are as savvy as you?"

Jeeves went on to say that there was no actual timeframe from when he would disappear from the site, but as I could see, he was already beginning to feel the effects."I couldn't afford the luxury apartment any more," Jeeves cried, "The company car is gone. They took my 24 karat feather duster too. I'm a shell of what I once was."

The time grew late and I had to head home. As I shook his grimy hand, passing two twenty dollar bills to him in the process, I thought about the idiocy of some people on the web. A cartoon butler left them confused when they tried to do a web search? What else causes these mental midgets to overload? Do they feel compelled to yodel when the go to Yahoo.com? Do they think that all the books and CDs you buy at Amazon.com come from a little tribe living in a rainforest?

Perhaps there would be hope for Jeeves. He mentioned he had an audition to play the Alfred's long lost brother in the new Batman cartoon.

Hey, the Pets.com sock puppet got a second chance. Why not Jeeves?

Alright, enough ramblin'.0

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