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Seven Ways to
Prepare Your Network
Seven Ways to Prepare Your Network for Videoconferencing
More workers are embracing desktop video and videoconferencing as they become accustomed to visual communications. Video and collaboration tools can lift the burden of distance, allowing people in different offices to collaborate as if they were in the same room. Workers can manage their real-time communications and move seamlessly between voice, video and instant messaging as needed. With easy-to-use integrated collaboration tools, organizations can cut travel costs and improve productivity.
Accustomed to high-definition television and streaming media, workers have high expectations for quality video experiences in the office. Proper planning and preparation can help organizations avoid surprises when deploying IP voice and video and ensure a quality user experience.
Workers want high-quality video, and without the proper preparation, organizations can slow the adoption of an important productivity tool for today’s distributed workforce.
Here are seven considerations to prepare your organization’s network for IP video and voice.
- Real-time communications are not forgiving. First and foremost, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) applications take place in real time. Unlike an email exchange or downloading a file from a server, where the time between sending and receiving the message is of little consequence, a phone or video call is highly sensitive to network latency, packet loss and jitter. Distance on the WAN circuit can also cause delays, which can ultimately interrupt the conversation flow. Make sure the delay, packet loss and jitter are below the acceptable thresholds for voice and video. Otherwise, users can experience interruptions or dropped connections.
- Does your network infrastructure have the design and capacity to support real-time communications? Most organizations have designed their networks to support data communications between users and centralized servers. But with voice and video, the communications patterns become a mesh, rather than a hub-and-spoke, as people in different offices communicate directly with each other. Video is bandwidth-hungry and can consume 10 times more bandwidth than a typical data transmission. That may mean upgrading the campus network to use modern, high-performance switches. And it will likely mean using high-performance Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections for the WAN.
- Quality of service is important. Many organizations use virtual LANs (VLANs) to segment voice traffic in their campus networks. But for a multi-site deployment with voice and video, using quality of service (QoS) across the entire LAN/WAN can make a big difference in the user experience. With QoS, voice and video traffic can be given priority access to the network bandwidth over less sensitive traffic, such as email, backup or Web surfing. It’s also helpful to allocate a specified amount of bandwidth per link to support the anticipated number of simultaneous voice or video calls. Using QoS can also help prevent packet loss and jitter for real-time applications, which will deliver a better user experience.
- Is the WAN connection to branch offices sufficient? Many organizations use Internet VPNs as an affordable connection for small branch offices. However, the performance can be unpredictable, which makes it unsuitable for supporting voice and video. Consider deploying MPLS to branch offices.
- What’s your plan for network resiliency? With essential voice and video communications on the network, a best practice is to install redundant WAN connections between critical sites to ensure that an unplanned network outage doesn’t disrupt communication.
- What’s your security plan? Strong security supports high availability of the overall system. And while cybercriminals have shown little interest in attacking UCC, it’s important to have protection. Using internal firewalls or session border controllers will give you protection.
- Consider adding WAN optimization controllers. WAN optimization appliances can also improve overall application performance for a medium or large multi-site organization. These appliances use a variety of compression and caching techniques that can effectively increase the capacity of the WAN links—and make room for real-time communications.