Archive for September, 2015

Project Management Essentials for Hosted VoIP Deployment

by on Sep.16, 2015, under Unified Communications



Proven Guidelines to Strengthen Your Transition Process


In our last post, we talked about the importance of providing transparency when it comes to your on-premise equipment. Today, we’re going to discuss why a strong project management process can ensure a successful transition from your old system to the new one.


There are various aspects to project management – carrier-related, application-related, CPE- and cabling-related – and how each one is addressed depends upon your hosted VoIP, bandwidth and overall Unified Communication (UC) needs.


The project management process can be broken down into three levels:

  1. Carrier-level, circuits, and porting
  2. Number, DID and IP phone configuration
  3. On-site equipment management

Carrier-level, Circuits, and Porting

Timelines dictate the entire scope of a project, and in almost every case that comes down to circuits. These range from your cable connection, which is quick, to fiber and fiber build outs, which have the potential to take upwards of six months to install. That’s why during your initial sales and budgetary discussions it’s important to gain a clear understanding of how long will it take for proper circuits to be installed. A good project manager can expertly guide you down the path of transition from one type of circuit to another, based on their knowledge of how long it takes carriers to place and install an order.


Another item to discuss with your project manager is how the porting of numbers occurs, and how long it will take. This means moving numbers from the current carrier to your new hosted voice provider, which will then be the new legal owner of the numbers.


Number, DID and IP Phone Configuration

The hosted dial tone or UFC provider’s management and configuration of phone numbers, DID’s and IP phones are also key to the transition. While not a long process traditionally, things like custom configurations – auto attendants and hunt groups – can affect the timing. Depending upon how complex a particular company’s needs are, and how effective the project manager is, this can be done anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks,


On-site Equipment Management

It’s also helpful to have someone at the customer site that can project manage from that end. An internal advocate is key to managing expectations of how the new hosted system is going to work, versus what they’ve been used to with an on-premise system.


In addition, they also play a significant role in ensuring that the hosted vendor is aware of all the wiring and equipment the company has prior to installation. While commonly a stressful time for new customers due to the huge change that’s about to take place, like most vendors out there, iCore’s number one goal is to make it as stress-free a process as possible. To do that, a lot of things that need to be installed are pre-configured. For example, an IP phone will grab its configuration off of the service, or cloud, and it’s good to go. But if your new provider is told the phones are IP and they’re really not, it will cause unplanned delays and unnecessary headaches.


Resolving issues on the fly and being able to catch potential problems before install comes from years of project management experience. That’s why selecting the right vendor – with a solid project manager – greatly impacts the overall success of your installation.


The flow chart visual below summarizes the Vonage Business project management process.



To learn more, please read the full whitepaper here, or contact us at marketing@icore.com.


In our next blog post, we’ll talk about how to minimize the disruption of service to employees.

Why Transparency Into Your On-Premise Equipment Is Important

by on Sep.09, 2015, under Cloud Services, Unified Communications



The Key Benefits for a Worry-Free Hosted VoIP Experience


In our last post, we talked about how companies should prepare to support a variety of media. Today, we’re going to discuss the importance of providing transparency when it comes to your on-premise equipment.


The fundamental reason most companies move to the cloud is to eliminate as much on-site equipment as possible in order to simplify, streamline, and improve the overall dial tone or Unified Communications (UC) experience. In order to make the transition work, companies need to think very carefully about the types of circuits deployed at the site, whether at company headquarters or another branch; what level of redundancy is needed; how much throughput is required; and, what codecs of voice and video are going to be used. The answers to these questions have a direct impact on the WAN throughput, as well as the types of equipment companies have on the edge – router, firewall, or switch.


Physical vs. Logical Separation
How you choose to set up your configuration depends on a variety of factors – most notably your equipment, budget, and the size of the environment. In most cases, having a quality configuration also means you’ll be deploying some type of managed service, which is one of the main reasons customer premise equipment (CPE) is so important. The service provider you select needs to have access to a device that can be managed. At iCore, we work with Cisco and Juniper quite a bit as both have flexible, reliable technology solutions.


Configuring a network is different for every company. There are two ways companies do this: physical and logical separation. Physical separation means different switching equipment for voice and data. This involves two drops, which obviously directly impacts equipment in the office, and the switches terminate on the edge of the device – firewall, router or both – significantly impacting UC and tone performance.


Since all firewalls are created equal, it’s important to consider the full feature set and use functions of various products to identify whether a product is for the benefit of VoIP security or IT security. While VoIP and IT security may coexist conceptually, they do not share the same security equipment.. Older firewalls and most new firewalls actually degrade the quality of VoIP traffic in their effort to secure it. Therefore, security features like ALG (Application Layer Gateway) should be turned OFF to minimize issues with VoIP traffic, and prevent roadblocks inVoIP traffic that are often times caused by a firewall.


Using VLAN, logical separation starts at the IP phone, with each port on the switch separating voice and video data traffic. VLAN only requires one single drop per user, enabling you to put all voice, video and data over a single data connection in the closet.


Sometimes a managed router or firewall is good enough, but if you want a bulletproof network with a hiccup-free deployment, the ideal solution is a managed switch. This can mean physical or logically separate – we at iCore recommend logical. Less equipment to purchase and manage, and separate VLANs make it a great solution.


Best Practices for Customers
Sometimes, how your network is configured at the home office is completely different from how it looks at smaller branch offices. Deploying a managed switch, a managed router, or some type of managed device (firewall or router) at the smaller offices offers a complete topology map of all the locations. This allows your service provider to monitor all IP’s, thus enabling them to diagnose where network traffic problems arise and promptly fix them before they affect your business.


When making the switch to the cloud, it’s always better to have a service provider that can help manage your network and equipment to ensure that both the transition to the cloud and its ongoing usage are smooth.


To learn more, feel free to read the full whitepaper here, or contact us at marketing@icore.com.


In our next blog post, we’ll talk about putting strong internal project management in place to ensure a successful transition from your old system to the new one.