Managing Cisco VoIP

In part one of a new series, Yankee Group's Zeus Kerravala explores the management regime you'll need to manage a Cisco VoIP implementation.

Most organizations are willing to tinker with VoIP or deploy it in one or two locations, but very few companies have installed it as their primary voice solution. As enterprises get closer to full deployment, the need for VoIP management will become increasingly more important. However, the majority of companies are unprepared for the complexities of a converged network.

According to a recent Yankee Group Survey, less than 50% of enterprises that have deployed VoIP currently use a comprehensive management solution. At the same time, network managers often demonstrate a lack of confidence in the technology and its promised benefits. With the industry moving beyond VoIP and more toward unified communications, network managers must implement a comprehensive VoIP management strategy, as this will be the key to obtaining the value and minimizing the risk of enterprise wide scale deployment.

Many network managers who are deploying Cisco IP telephony will continue to lack the confidence until they adopt a more complete VoIP management solution from a credible, experienced vendor. Fortunately, many vendors have emerged as trusted, viable partners that can offer an end-to-end management solution for Cisco VoIP environments. With the selection of vendors provided network managers should feel confident in successfully deploying and experiencing the value and benefits of IP telephony.

The uncertainty and cautiousness generated from network managers is one of the things holding back enterprise-wide deployments. This insecurity stems from the perceived immaturity of VoIP management tools and the strategies to deploy them. Survey data and anecdotal interviews have shown that telecom and network managers tend to get more comfortable as they move to the production stage. However, the confidence during early stages of testing is a key and having the right management tools in place will help to alleviate some of the uncertainty. It will provide network managers with better insight into the environment and more predictable performance in production environments.

A comprehensive management strategy based on a lifecycle approach is strongly recommended. The VoIP management lifecycle addresses each stage of an enterprise Cisco VoIP deployment and the required management tasks. Following this approach will give network managers the confidence needed during the early stages and will ultimately deploy VoIP faster and create a more manageable enterprise VoIP platform.

About the author: Zeus Kerravala is senior vice president of Yankee Group's infrastructure research and consulting. His areas of expertise involve working with customers to solve their business issues through the deployment of infrastructure technology solutions, including switching, routing, network management, voice solutions and VPNs. Before joining Yankee Group, Kerravala was a senior engineer and technical project manager for Greenwich Technology Partners, a leading network infrastructure and engineering consulting firm. Prior to that, he was a vice president of IT for Ferris, Baker Watts, a mid-Atlantic based brokerage firm, acting as both a lead engineer and project manager deploying corporate-wide technical solutions to support the firm's business units. Kerravala's first task at FBW was to roll out a new frame relay infrastructure with connections to branch offices, service providers, vendors and the stock exchange. Kerravala was also an engineer and technical project manager for Alex. Brown & Sons, responsible for the technology related to the equity trading desks.


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