Pomeroy IT Solutions on IP telephony Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2008

One of the areas that more and more

businesses are exploring as a way

to be more competitive and profitable is IP telephony.

“IP telephony is an up and coming technology that is going to be the standard in

a few years,” says Mike Bond, CCIE, senior network VoIP engineer at Pomeroy IT

Solutions. “You can improve communications with increased mobility and receive

the added benefit of disaster recovery.”

Smart Business spoke with Bond for

more information on IP telephony.

What is IP telephony?

It is taking your phone and fax and

moving it into your Internet protocol

through your computer. Telephony runs

off your traditional network and passes

packets of information back and forth.

Besides internal networks, it can work

through external networks. It exchanges

voice, fax and other forms of information

that have traditionally been carried over

the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the public switched telephone

network (PSTN).

Why should I consider IP telephony?

With IP telephony, there is a return on

investment over a period of time. For one

thing, you can set up a virtual office

almost anywhere.

If you have multiple offices or locations, you can have a centralized system

to manage all of your communications. If

there is a problem with a line, you have a

backup built in that allows you to continue to communicate. It helps with remote

office workers. They can have their desk

phone literally sitting on their computer

and it functions as though they were in

the office.

Another advantage is that you can add

more employees without the expense of

more office space and equipment.

Are there potential pitfalls with IP telephony?

There are several, but with proper planning, they can be avoided or minimized.

If you lose power and have no backup, you lose communications. You must have

a backup plan. One option is to have a

backup generator to run your power. You

can also use a UPS backup system.

Whichever form of backup you utilize,

you must make sure that it matches up

with your system. Setting up your system

is a lot like building a house. You have to

have your foundation in place. Your network has to be optimized. If not, you

won’t be happy with the service. Make

sure that all parts of the system match

and work with each other.

You should implement quality of service appropriately. For seamless communications, you need to mark your voice

packets with a higher priority than data

packets and alleviate the network congestion to assure that voice is the highest

priority traffic on your network. You

should also adhere to a regular maintenance schedule that includes the communications servers, VoIP equipment

and the backup systems.

What are the costs?

It depends on the equipment you have

and on what you need or want. You may have some of the equipment on-site that

can be used. If you have to start from

scratch with all new equipment your

costs are going to go up. The cost can

run from $10,000 to $50,000, or more. It

also depends on the extras that you want

or need.

To get the best value, talk over all

aspects with your solutions provider. Let

them know all of your wants, but keep in

mind your needs and consider all the

pluses and minuses of each. Cabling

costs also need to be kept in mind.

How do the benefits offset the costs?

You can centralize your administration.

You will be bundling your computer and

telephone needs into one system. You

will only need one set of cabling as it

eliminates the need for separate PBX

cabling. Your LAN or network cable and

communications cabling are all now one

and the same. You can also eliminate

long distance charges. You will save time

in contacting those within the system.

Instead of punching 1 plus the 10-digit

number, you can punch in only the three-or five-digit extension number.

Moves, adds and changes (MACs) are

much less complicated and cost considerably less with VoIP than a traditional

PBX system. A PBX phone move is usually handled by an administrator or the

service provider. When moving a VoIP

phone, most of the time, the user can

pick up the phone and move it him or

herself to another networked port. Or,

when moving to a new physical location,

an administrator would only have to

modify a few fields. With a traditional

PBX, MACs could cost hundreds of

dollars.

MIKE BOND, CCIE #17963 (Voice), is a senior network VoIP engineer at Pomeroy IT Solutions. Reach him at (615) 399-0404 or by

e-mail at mbond@pomeroy.com.