By Tara Van Unen
Now regarded as a “mature" technology, many enterprises expect voice over IP (VoIP) deployments to perform as promised right out of the gate. When they don’t, sorting through issues can lead to less mature behavior, such as customers, vendors and service providers all pointing fingers at one another and, invariably, at the solution provider spearheading the installation.
While there’s typically plenty of work to go around, solution providers have a distinct advantage: the chance to turn adversity into profit and repeat business. More than other providers, enterprise IT departments expect solution partners to make sure their sites and existing networks are ready for VoIP and that the right decisions get made throughout deployment. Customers don’t know — or care — that solution partners can’t know how everything will work in the real world. At least, not without validating vendor and provider claims.
By performing strategic “readiness" assessments during the early stages of a project, solution providers can increase the odds of VoIP delivering the quality and savings customers expect from the outset. While decreasing the number of unpleasant surprises occurring during rollouts, providers benefit from increased customer loyalty and create new revenues streams before, during, and beyond deployment.
It’s no secret that data sheets primarily deal in hypothetical “best-case" scenarios while users deal in real-world conditions. Performing strategic readiness assessments bridge this gap early on to keep VoIP deployments from appearing to take too long or miss the mark. A thorough VoIP readiness assessment includes:
- Validating vendor and service provider performance claims
- Verifying interoperability between new and existing equipment
- Benchmarking bandwidth requirements for the prospective traffic mix in real-world conditions including link impairments
- Fine-tuning QoS policies
- Previewing end-user quality of experience (QoE)
- Exploring “what-if" scenarios
To thoroughly assess performance, interoperability, scalability and ROI in the real world, solution providers need to simulate live deployments at scale, generating representative user traffic and network conditions and assessing how various devices and combinations perform. These assessments can be conducted in third-party test labs, or as on-site assessments without interfering with production networks.
Taking the time to recreate live environments at scale, versus simply plugging a handful of devices into existing networks and making a few calls, may sound like it delays rollouts; in reality, adding this step promotes completing deployments more quickly, with fewer surprises that can lead to much more lengthy delays. Spending a few hours or even days exploring as many potential devices and traffic profiles as possible prior to making decisions increases speed, savings and satisfaction in the long run while creating a new source of revenues for providers.
So What Can Go Wrong in the Real World?
The short answer is: anything and everything. Piecemeal testing of devices, services and configuration may reveal obvious compatibility issues, but will barely scratch the surface of what may happen when systems are confronted by growth, volume and the unforeseen.
By testing at scale and simulating live conditions, providers can gain insight into the issues resulting in delay and disappointment. This can be accomplished efficiently by private labeling assessment services so customers don’t have to invest in sophisticated test systems or expertise.