IT managers are, increasingly, choosing IP networks for voice and data traffic, because the technology can cut network purchasing and operation costs by up to a quarter, a survey claims.
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The survey, conducted by networking vendor NextiraOne, suggests IP communications will become dominant this year as organisations begin to replace existing legacy networks.
Stockton Council, for example, has cut network costs by around £333,000 a year by moving from a legacy voice and data network to a converged IP solution. The IP network provides cheaper calls between the council's 160 sites, in addition to lower management costs and savings in bandwidth usage.
The survey of European network managers found that converged IP networks reduced total cost of ownership - sometimes by up to 25%. Companies also reported that IP networks produced higher employee motivation and organisational effectiveness as information was more quickly and easily accessible.
Converged networks require less hardware than conventional networks, and usually less cabling, making them cheaper to install, manage and maintain.
"What IP communication offers is what all companies dissatisfied with the inflexibility of their legacy networks desperately crave," said Jean-Louis van Houwe, director of voice and convergence at NextiraOne. "We expect big changes in 2004 - it will be a breakthrough year for IP communications."
Research from IDC estimated that the market for IP telephony will be worth £22bn by 2007. NextiraOne believed that an important driver of IP adoption is the emergence of new applications for converged networks, such as unified messaging and videoconferencing, which enable employees to work flexibly, whether in the office, at home or when travelling.
The company - whose main clients are Alcatel, Cisco Systems, Genesys and Nortel Networks, all of which have a huge amount to gain from a move to IP networks - also claimed that customers using IP to enable teleworking have increased staff productivity by up to 50%.
Sally Whittle writes for Techworld.com