As we saw in our previous supplement (see www.computerweekly.com/btsme), the power of IP can be harnessed in networks that support both voice and data applications, making your business more adaptable and flexible in the face of market and economic pressures and, ultimately, more competitive. This concept, convergence, is a buzzword these days, but it is one that transcends the hype that surrounds it.
There's nothing new about convergence; it's been around in some form since the early 1990s. However, it's only very recently that the term has gained common currency, and it can be argued that it is only very recently that the full extent of the potential benefits of convergence have become apparent.
Virtually all business analysts will tell you that most companies - and that very much includes your competitors - will increasingly migrate towards convergence over the next five years. This should not be too surprising. Fundamentally, convergence will enable you to achieve two very desirable business objectives that should head more or less every IT manager's list of goals: cost reduction and revenue growth.
Yet convergence can't just be installed; you can only make these gains by deft deployment of an effective convergence strategy. It is the aim of this supplement to advise you on how to formulate such a strategy that will enable your business to achieve the aforementioned goals.
We will look at the overall whats and the whys of convergence, defining exactly what is meant by the term, its relevance to your company and the general benefits that you can expect.
We'll then drill down deeper, looking at the anatomy of converged networking in terms of its fundamental components and how you can plan your converged network. We'll look at how you can realise the business gains from having a converged network, with reference to two real- life case studies. Then we will show you how to realise these benefits in a secure manner, making sure that the benefits are realised by you alone.
We'll take an in-depth look at what is probably the key application of a converged network, IP telephony, seeing exactly what IP telephony is and isn't and what it can deliver to your business. We'll follow this by looking at how convergence can support mobile applications, how it can be used to harness multimedia functionality and managed services, and also the devices that are available for you to tap into a converged network.
We'll conclude by examining how you can construct a return on investment path for your converged technology and what steps you should take in choosing a supplier.
In short, we'll give you a roadmap from which you can make convergence not just a word to drop, but the means of achieving the competitiveness that is vital to your future profitability.