Managing a VoIP Network
The need for management
All good things come with a price. While VoIP for your business is certainly likely to save you lots of money, improve productivity and create new ways of improving relationships with your customers, there's one aspect you have to constantly keep a look out for - and that's the performance of your VoIP network.
Traditional phone lines never really had this problem. The worst that could happen would be that you wouldn't be able to connect because all the lines on the route are busy. VoIP doesn't do that. It connects you no matter what and so it's up to you to ensure that it has sufficient room to work. In this article, we look at the various threats to your VoIP network and how you can ensure that you keep it running as smoothly as the day it was first set up.
Of course, there are also other threats such as security, but today we look at the type of management required to ensure that your VoIP calls are always clear and involve a minimum of delay while speaking.
Keeping the pipes clear
If you're like most businesses, you'll probably have your VoIP Internet connection on the same line as your regular Internet. While there's nothing wrong with this approach per se, it requires quite a bit of care to ensure that one doesn't overly cannibalize the other. For example, if a person on your network begins to download a large file, it can negatively impact other Internet users. But it'll devastate your VoIP lines. Other Internet traffic can be delayed without the users minding too much. But even a few dozen milliseconds will create a noticeable impact on those using voice over the Internet.
The solution is to virtually separate the two networks using something called a Virtual LAN or a VLAN. This separation can take place at the router level where you inform your router that certain types of traffic are to get their own bandwidth allocation. This way, no matter how heavy the Internet usage is in one area, your VoIP lines will remain unaffected.
But you also need to keep a lookout on the total VoIP traffic. As your organization grows, more and more space will be required to handle all the VoIP calls. You must constantly monitor important parameters such as packet loss and jitter so that you're warned in time before the problem becomes severe.
Separating the two types of traffic either physically or virtually lies at the heart of VoIP network management. This is true even if you're using SIP VoIP hosted PBX systems which transfer all the burden of the actual VoIP infrastructure onto a third party. While you can't avoid VoIP network management, you can certainly reduce your headache and make the switch to hosted PBX systems.
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