Ensuring Your Network is UC-Ready

If you are intent on deploying Unified Communications (UC) applications, it’s critical to ensure your network is up to the task. Should your network architecture prove inadequate for the task, you’re in danger of losing the confidence and attention of potential adopters within your organization.

But that’s definitely a fate to be avoided. “You and your network will need to support a variety of real-time applications if you’re going to get the ROI and full business impact that UC offers,” writes Jeremy Littlejohn in InformationWeek. To prevent a failed UC deployment due to network failure, he offers a four point plan:

  • Think throughput, not bandwidth. If you’ve got 100 Mbps to the desktop and 1-Gbps uplinks, focus on maximizing throughput rather than worrying about bandwidth.
  • Don’t bust buffers. Overloaded buffers on a switch interface can lead to dropped packets, which can be deadly for real-time apps like voice and video. Ideally, your switch infrastructure should have a dedicated buffer per uplink or aggregation port on your switches.
  • Use the right switch. Organizations sometimes use access-layer switches to aggregate other access-layer switches. This topology can lead to dropped packets. Link access-layer switches to distribution layer switches instead.
  • Mark traffic for QoS. Ensure that real-time applications get priority treatment across your LAN and WAN by labeling traffic using the quality-of-service markings available with your networking gear.

InfoWk-BuildBeyondVoIP

Liittlejohn believes organizations that follow these steps and then, thoroughly test their networks are in a strong position to roll out robust UC solutions to meet growing demands.”To move past voice over IP to real unified communications, your network must provide appropriate levels of service,” he concludes. “Remember to keep things simple, address the details of your equipment, and retain as much control as you can over the flow of your data. And most important, test your network. Follow these steps and your network not only will satisfy UC’s requirements, but it also will positively affect adoption in your organization.”

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