The ability to communicate is critical for all companies, but the technology is part of a much larger unified communications framework that allows users to interact with one another through voice, video, instant messaging and file sharing. These days VoIP platforms offer all of this functionality through a single system. VoIP essentially converts voice into data and transmits it over networks using internet protocol. However, the mixing of voice and data creates both advantages and disadvantages.
Merging voice and data
Merging voice with data on the same network allows companies to construct and maintain a single physical network rather than operating two separate independent networks. This means all the infrastructure such as cables, routing and switching hardware can all be shared. However, voice is far more sensitive to jitter and packet delay. This means that voice data has to be prioritised ahead of other packets which can withstand delays and delivery which is out of sequence.
Most VoIP platforms deployed tend to be on-premises. A traditional set-up consists of one or more servers that control call set-up and termination as well as voicemail and other unified communications tools. The server will connect to a LAN as well as PSTN. End users will either have a desk phone, softphone or conference phone. These endpoints connect to the network and ultimately the VoIP server. Large organisations with thousands of employees are likely to benefit the most from on-premises architecture because it allows them to save money by benefiting from economies of scale.
Cloud service providers
More modern architecture however does away with the requirement for servers on premises and replaces them with the cloud which can be managed by a cloud service provider such as Vonage. This model has become increasingly popular because it is easier to manage, simpler to deploy and even performs better for companies embracing mobile workforce’s. The end user hardware is the same but generally speaking has better functionality and added capabilities such as custom apps for smartphones.
The hybrid model
This is not going to be suitable for every company but is definitely attractive to SMB’s because the cloud solution involves far less upfront costs and significantly lower maintenance requirements. Hybrid cloud architecture is suitable for companies that do not fit either the on-premises or cloud models completely. Whilst such solutions do require an on-premises server, most of the operations take place in the public cloud. Hybrid solutions are most appropriate for mid-sized organisations with multiple distributed and remote offices.