When implementing a unified communications or VoIP solution, it is highly recommended to start by conducting a thorough network assessment. This assessment involves determining whether the existing network infrastructure is adequate to support VoIP features, or whether the network will require upgrades or other enhancements to deliver a healthy end state.
After making sure that the networking adjustments have taken place and that the system can handle the enterprise UC load, the next step is to contract with a VoIP provider, and deploy the VoIP solution in a “sandbox” (i.e. a pre-production environment). This sandbox deployment will involve comprehensive testing and evaluation, including measuring dial-tone availability, call success rates and quality components, as well as network performance.
The third step is to deploy the solution in production. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of VoIP management. Once the system is in production, it is necessary to actively test the system and monitor a variety of data points to ensure that the solution is optimized for the organization, and that the users have a positive unified communications experience. Some metrics to monitor with respect to optimization include bandwidth levels, traffic flows, and existing choke points. System administrators and network managers should work together to also conduct a post-deployment analysis to ensure the network performance is acceptable, and that the system supports VoIP traffic as it ebbs and flows.
To fully evaluate and manage VoIP solutions, organizations should not only test the system in production, but should proactively monitor the performance of VoIP/UC solutions on an on-going basis. In addition, capturing long-term usage data will help develop a clear understanding of when and where demand is the highest, and where there is the most stress on the system. Having this information in hand simplifies VoIP management and can aid in troubleshooting as well as planning for long-term support.
With respect to the user experience, businesses should measure and monitor the overall quality of service, including areas such as jitter, which can cause undesirable effects in audio signals, flickering monitors, or the loss of data being transmitted from one networked device to another. A correlation between jitter and bandwidth usage, for example, can indicate an issue with overall network usage. This can usually be addressed by upgrading the network.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, there are solutions to help with VoIP management. Unify Square provides its PowerSuiteTM solutions to help monitor, analyze, and even provision Skype for Business and/or Microsoft Teams. And, if you’re not sure where to start, a variety of Consulting Services can be leveraged, including network assessments that evaluate the entire infrastructure, and even managed services to help post-deployment.