Convergence puts IT managers on the front foot

As IT managers, how often do we have to explain why we cannot do things with our networks? When our business managers have...

As IT managers, how often do we have to explain why we cannot do things with our networks? When our business managers have problems or plans, how frustrating is it when we have to explain how long things will take, or how much they will cost? How nice would it be to respond with, 'yes, no problem'? Or even to suggest improvements that we can make for the business? Now that would really make you a hero!

Integrating your voice and data networks could help you and your team to finally get on the front foot. By putting a new level of simplicity and flexibility at the core of your company, it allows you to be responsive to the business, and the business to be responsive to its customers.

How can convergence make you more responsive to the business? Let's look at some of the typical scenarios we have found when BT helps customers with convergence.

For example, your finance director might suggest putting the accounts, admin and purchasing teams together so that they can work more effectively. They can all fit into one of your rooms, but that means moving people upstairs, reconnecting them all to the same file and print services, and then setting up the incoming phone numbers to 'hunt' for people in the right teams. Wouldn't it be great to say you could do that quickly with minimum disruption to you, the teams involved, customers or suppliers?

Or maybe your MD wants to open a new office in the north. She has a limited budget, but wants calls to be routed transparently between the offices, and she wants people in both offices to have access to centrally-held company information. Wouldn't it be great to tell the MD that you've already planned for this scenario, and that essentially you just need an extension of the network?

Or, then again, maybe your sales director wants to grow sales by recruiting new people to cover Wales, the West Country and Scotland. The FD is worried about the cost of cars, petrol, hotels and wasted travel time. The obvious solution is to recruit people local to each area and have them work from home. Wouldn't it be great to say that you've planned for this and can provide remote access for data and voice both quickly and easily?

At BT, we find customers look to a converged network to make these scenarios easier, faster and cheaper to deal with.

With voice and data on the same network you can unplug those people downstairs and plug them back in upstairs. With IP telephony, a few minutes' work on your PC can have all the phones ready for use upstairs and the customer and supplier phone numbers set up to 'hunt' for a free person from the right team.

With a single network and security regime, that second office can be plugged straight in with a new WAN connection. With IP telephony there's no need to order a new voice switch - just plug in some IP phones, set them up from your PC and everyone is part of the same phone system.

And those new sales people? With a converged network they can be connected to the network, secured with the central security regime and plugged in to the office voice system in double quick time.

So a converged network lets you respond quickly. The basic infrastructure is both in place and flexible, administration and changes are simpler and faster, and big changes (such as new firewalls or voice switches) are not required when new sites or remote workers are added.

Critically, a converged network gives you the confidence to say 'yes', and an assurance that changes need not take over your life.

Simply put, going for convergence today means that you 'can do' in the future. It's often impossible to predict what changes are coming, but with convergence you put a level flexibility and simplicity into your IT, that lets you respond like a hero. n
This was last published in January 2005

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