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.
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.