March 13, 2012

Five Best Practices Enterprises Can Use Today to Improve Communications

Every day I work closely with our account teams and sales engineers to help customers identify ways they can make their communications networks more efficient and be designed with the future in mind. My advice in these conversations usually comes down to five best practices.

I can summarize these as follows:

1. Network Optimization: Optimize your network by eliminating unused bandwidth Before, enterprises had to work with multiple local carriers to provide separate Primary Rate Interface (PRI) lines or IP connections at each location. Today, businesses can use an enterprise-wide SIP trunk service that provides high-capacity SIP trunking to one or more primary locations that all locations can leverage. This eliminates a lot of lines and equipment in your branch offices. In addition, this architecture allows for sharing capacity for sessions across enterprise.

2. Leverage Your Data Network and IP–PBX – Enterprises no longer need to maintain different types of phone equipment in the network.

They can unify their communications through one or just a few IP-PBXs that all branches in the enterprise connect to over the MPLS network.

3. Streamline Operating Expenses – By consolidating hardware, software, and access, organizations can reduce the ongoing costs of running the network.

4. Business Continuity Solutions Leverage redundant points of failure in not only the carrier’s network, but in their own Network .

5. Improve Resource Management – By tapping into the technologies now offered, enterprises can not only reduce equipment costs, but streamline the resources that are need to maintain the network. It’s not just telephony replacement.

Here’s what enterprises might do to employ these best practices:

Best Practice #1 – Network Optimization

What IT and network managers should ask themselves:

  • Are branch locations fully utilizing the services they buy today?
  • Is there unused capacity at their branches? What if they could share the capacity?

With enterprise SIP you can simplify how voice services are bought and used across the enterprise. Beyond streamlining local services, enterprises can improve their communications infrastructure by eliminating equipment and providers that traditionally supported all enterprise locations.

Best Practice #2 – Leverage your Data Network and IP-PBX.

Enterprises that use an MPLS IP-VPN service should consider using it for an all-in-one, multi-site IP communications solution. Long distance traffic that is site-to-site now becomes free while still keeping their local traffic free. This is an important consideration since not all carriers can do this. Additionally, every carrier has obligations to handle E911. So customers not wishing to spend extra money on additional trunking should definitely consider a carrier that can deliver emergency information to the PSAP over their network.

Once all the traffic is carried over one network, enterprises gain efficiencies like the proverbial “one throat to choke”. They also get the largest volume discounts on ALL their traffic. There are other benefits as well such as pushing PBX features to the branches without having to deploy additional services. They can consolidate DIA, VPN and Voice through the carrier cloud over a single circuit.

Best practice #3 – Streamline Operating Expenses.

An Enterprise SIP solution also reduces the resources and personnel to manage hardware and software associated with managing multiple lines.

It’s easier to manage standardized phone systems than a lot of different systems. Interoperability, the way systems talk to one another, doesn’t have as many challenges so your work is less.

Dealing with one provider also allows you to have one point of accountability.

Lastly, the enterprise can manage local services from a central location. Look at carriers that have portals which allow you to manage your own network. Some examples include:

  • Adding telephone numbers including porting
  • Upload directory listings
  • Assign caller ID with names and telephone numbers
  • View inventory of telephone numbers by NPA (Number Plan Area) and rate center
  • Make changes to directory listings
  • Register E-911

Best Practice #4 – Business Continuity.

Enterprises should look to carriers that have redundant points of failure in the network. Your carrier should enable call routing so that your traffic is carried over multiple enterprise nodes that allow failover from one Enterprise SIP connection to another. Some carriers even have a redundancy solution available for enterprises with single nodes. This service automatically redirects an incoming call to alternate number in event of an unforeseen interruption in service. You designate alternate number: mobile, home, PBX main or another dedicated number.

Best Practice #5 – Improve Resource Management.

Today, everyone is challenged to do more with less. SIP trunking allows the enterprise to take advantage of the technologies that are being developed today and, if deployed effectively, an enterprise gains efficiencies by:

  • Reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with less equipment to buy and manage at every location
  • Controlling costs by sharing capacity for voice sessions across network
  • Adding redundancy and failover from one Enterprise SIP connection to another
  • Simplifying and consolidating local and long distance inbound and outbound calling across an enterprise, regardless of physical location

In the current economic environment, those IT and network managers who can increase their company’s productivity and at the same time reduce cost will deliver the best shareholder return.

These are some of my ideas for achieving results. Do you have any other ideas? If so, please feel free to comment below.

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