PREVIOUSLY: What is Unified Communications?
Unified Communications is likely to put extra stress on your corporate network, says Pushkar Taneja - Managing Director of networking systems integrator GlobalConnect.
"You might have invested in technology that you're quite happy with, however when you start looking at Unified Communications you need to realise you're going to have multiple communications channels working together under the Unified Communications umbrella," Taneja says.
"The areas our customers have had to pay attention to is their data networking environment. When you look at the data side, people are often only using email, web browsing and perhaps instant messaging. Any network delays are not really apparent to users, but once you start integrating voice into the environment - with voice travelling as data packets - you can't afford to have latency affecting performance. The first step is for someone to come and do a survey of your business and compile a report of what you might need to do to prepare for Unified Communications."
While your network might need an overhaul to bring it up to scratch, beware of over-enthusiastic vendors that want to go too far, says James Heansley - Vice President of Strategy for Avaya Asia Pacific.
"There are some, particularly in the data networking world, that will espouse changes to the data network that are actually overkill, that go too far," Heansley says.
"We separate out the notion of applications from the underlying network- treating Unified Communications as network-independent. Think of it as an application that allows integration between other applications in real time in such a way that it's not dependent on the underlying network."
"Accommodating VoIP and Unified Communications is mainly about making sure you have a clean network and one that has Quality of Service. A lot of IT organisations are very proud of their data networks, and justifiably so, but the characteristics of VoIP and necessary Quality of Service mean you can't have extraneous traffic that could potentially clog up communications and put delays on your voice calls or video conferencing."