Similar to a regular doctor’s checkup, you need to frequently test your network to make sure voice services are clear, video isn’t jittery and emails are reaching their destinations. Unified communications (UC) monitoring tools do just that and alert you to real and potential problems. Scheduling these tests on a regular basis will let you know when sensitive voice and video services are under-performing and making your organization look unprofessional.

As our options for communicating have gotten better, ensuring a superior experience for UC has become considerably more difficult. People are using smartphones, laptops and tablets over both wired and wireless networks, and you need to understand what they are experiencing on your network. These four tips will ensure that your UC services, either from the cloud or on premise—pass their hearing, seeing and reading tests with honors.

  1. Complete a network assessment test prior to deploying UC. A network assessment quickly identifies if your infrastructure can successfully support essential voice and video services. With a network assessment service, an engineer monitors your network for several days so you will know exactly what changes are needed to make your network UC ready.
  2. Review bandwidth capacity at branch offices. Your branch office communications can create bottlenecks on the network connecting your data center and offices. Consider the number of workers and the UC services they use — including voice, video and collaboration — and add bandwidth as needed. For voice, bandwidth will depend on the number of simultaneous calls. If you’re adding video, you should be aware that video could consume 10 times more bandwidth than sending email or other files. You will want to allocate a specified amount of bandwidth per link to support the anticipated number of simultaneous voice or video calls.
  3. Assure the experience with quality of service and WAN optimization. Organizations have habitually avoided quality of service (QoS) and opted for adding bandwidth to make network congestion problems go away. However, you can avoid purchasing more bandwidth if you set up QoS correctly. For a multisite deployment of unified communications, using QoS across the WAN can make a big difference in the user experience. With QoS, voice and video traffic can be given priority access to network bandwidth over less sensitive traffic, such as email, backup or Web surfing. Using QoS can also help prevent packet loss and jitter for UC applications, all of which delivers the type of good experience that users expect. WAN optimization products can also help improve the user experience by reducing the bandwidth consumed for other traffic on the WAN.
  4. Put application performance monitoring and network monitoring tools to work. There are tools that can perform ongoing, regular health checks, including ShoreTel’s easy-to-use management tools. ShoreTel’s tools enable IT staffs to manage the system from anywhere on the network. ShoreTel Director streamlines the management of all voice applications and ShoreTel Remote Monitoring portal provides an over-the-shoulder view of deployed ShoreTel services, with a user-friendly dashboard. The dashboard shows overall system status and resource utilization. An overview of health and performance of all sites and connectivity between them is also available. You can track video and voice call quality information, including packet loss, jitter and delay, and call trace to easily identify potential network issues.
  5. Investigate Software Defined Networking (SDN). Organizations are drawn to the promise of flexibility that SDN brings to the network. Instead of isolating network resources, SDN gives organizations the freedom to move resources where they are needed. Network architecture is more simplified and opens up bandwidth capacity that was previously isolated. SDN provides UC traffic with reliable routes for optimal application performance.

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