The internal and external communication methods that companies prefer are changing. For some time now, the use of Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC), including voice messaging, video and presence, has been a big promise in this market. However, the rate of acceptance by companies appears to be lower than anticipated. There is nevertheless an ongoing acceleration, driven by wide use of mobile devices and by changes in consumer behavior. This means companies must prepare their networks for disruptive forms of communication.
Five trends in corporate data communication by Bob Kukic
UCC holds great promise. It involves the integration of real-time communication services such as Instant Messaging (chat), presence (showing availability), speech (including IP telephony), mobile functionalities (such as extensions and a single number for fixed and mobile), web & video conferencing, desktop sharing, web sharing, call control and voice recognition with non-real-time communication services like unified messaging (integrated voicemail, email, SMS and fax). That is quite a list. Not everybody will use everything, and each service has its own application area.
If all is well, the chosen solution will offer a consistent user interface and experience on different devices and media types. What does that mean for the network? The following lists the most important developments.
1. SIP replaces ISDN
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is increasingly being adopted by the market. SIP trunking is used to set up VoIP speech and multimedia communication. In this concept, the traffic between a company’s telephony network and the public telephony network is no longer routed over a local ISDN station, but over the IP network of the company. SIP makes further demands of the data connections, especially when it comes to bandwidth and availability. Telephone conversations must be conducted free of noise and hitches.
2. Video replaces telephony
According to market analysts, in a few years video conferencing will be more popular than telephone conversations or email. The driving force behind this development is the consumer who is now used to new forms of communications such as Skype, live chat, Video-on-Demand, Smart TV’s, etc. These and other new technologies are available at ever decreasing costs and increasing performance. WebRTC (communication via the browser), smartphones and tablets have made a permanent mark and this clearly has implications for the capacity of the network. A video call obviously requires more bandwidth than a telephone call.
3. Personal devices replace the Video Room end-points
Until recently, corporate video communication was limited to Video Rooms and scheduled calls. Nowadays, more and more employees communicate at the time and place of their choosing through personal devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. Consumers increasingly expect companies to offer video communication. This can lead to a bandwidth explosion on the company’s network, especially when large volumes of video contacts are expected because of a marketing campaign or an incident.
4. Anywhere-anyhow communication
We expect to be able to communicate with anyone and via all devices. This requires new UC integration solutions that link the different individual communication methods (audio, video, vendor-specific systems, rooms, video and UC clients, etc.). These integration solutions are increasingly taken from the cloud, which requires the UC traffic to be brought to a central point inside or outside the company’s network. This involves additional connections or upgrades of the existing connections.
5. First IP telephony
There are still plenty of companies that have yet to make the transition to IP telephony. This means their LAN and WAN infrastructure must be made VoIP-ready, including more bandwidth, more redundancy, prioritizing voice traffic, etc.
It is clear that companies must monitor themselves continuously and must be able to keep adapting their network infrastructure in line with all new developments. Until recently, a network was designed to last for a long period, say five years. Nowadays, that is much too long, it is important to update regularly, even if it is only to take advantage of new cloud services and price reductions of carriers and vendors. For most companies it is too difficult to keep track effectively of these developments in the market and in technology. Therefore, seek the right advice on what connectivity your business needs.
- You always need more bandwidth and a larger availability than you first think.
- Set the bandwidth for each individual application, a one-size-fits-all approach is needlessly expensive.
- Stay flexible and avoid long-term contracts (max. two years). Connectivity constantly drops in price, latency becomes lower all the time and innovations occur really fast. Today’s solution is often obsolete by tomorrow.
- Ask for pay-per-use bandwidth.
- When using cloud, determine exactly who in the chain is responsible for the connectivity and the Quality of Service: who determines the prioritization of traffic? Who ensures an integrated SLA and guarantees performance including the connectivity?
Bob Kukic is Architect at Custom Connect, carrier-neutral advisor in the fields of connectivity and data communication. firstname.lastname@example.org