As businesses change and grow, the ability to quickly scale up — or even down — automatically becomes a necessity. Adding new employees, in particular, require a company to adapt its phone system in order to accommodate the need for more lines. Unfortunately, it is a difficult feat to conquer using traditional on-premise telephony systems, and for a lot of reason. This includes, but not limited to, higher setup and maintenance costs, IT support reliance, and the need for hardware on-site. A cloud-based phone system, however, is on a different level. It would instead enable a business to efficiently manage all of its communication services in a less costly and more streamlined manner.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses often make is thinking that they have the ability to run and take care of all of their IT needs. Yes, VoIP is primarily designed to be more flexible, but VoIP phones nowadays are not just phones. They are instead small computers that relay audio through the Internet in real-time. With that said, it is only expected for a lot of things to go wrong. It is not even a matter of things going wrong but when. Well, who knows, right? While switching to cloud for VoIP is guaranteed a win, it is still important to establish the right foundation in order to secure the rewards. Here are three tips to ensure that you make the switch right.
#1. Use the Right Bandwidth
It holds true that cloud-based VoIP does not take a huge amount of bandwidth, but it does not mean it is not tolerant of poor-quality bandwidth. Best Online Reviews suggests that it is important not to share your normal internet circuit with VoIP traffic. You should rather add a second internet circuit – one that is dedicated entirely to your cloud-based VoIP – so you can take advantage of low internet service prices. The money you would spend on analogs and/or various digital services can be used to cover the cost. Besides, a second circuit is a beneficial thing to have. You will not worry about the other one failing as you have a backup; hence reliability is significantly improved.
It is worth noting, though, that internet traffic is simply asymmetric. Interestingly, VoIP traffic is the one great exception. Not only is it very symmetric, it also comes with equal volumes of both inbound and outbound traffic. Meaning, your typical low-cost asymmetric DSL circuit will not cut it. You will surely need a fairly substantial upstream bandwidth for your cloud-based VoIP, but it being asymmetric is not a requirement. You will just need at least 50 kbps (kilobits per second) in every simultaneous call – or 100 kbps if you want things to get a little much better. For instance, you are currently using a 60kbps codec. It might be a good idea to increase it between 100 and 180 kbps.
#2. LAN Segmentation is Nothing to Worry About
In massive VoIP networks, individuals would really go to extreme lengths when it comes to segmenting their LAN data and VoIP traffic. They do this by using 802.1p quality of service, specially designed VLANs, and some other complicated functionality and features. There is nothing wrong about all of these, though – it will not hurt anything really. But hey, keep in mind that a typical gigabit LAN (say, with 100 or 200 stations per subnet) is not going to face any issue when VoIP and other data traffic are mixed.
Just remember that every network is different, and it could vary greatly depending on a lot of factors. But if you are expecting very high loads (for example, you are running disk-to-disk backups over the same type of LAN), segmentation can really help you big time.
#3. Remember Your Firewall
Most unified threat management firewalls have become popular in all business types and sizes. The only catch, however, is that they can usually cause simultaneous slowdowns. This is especially the case when they start scanning for viruses or performing other threat mitigation processes. While UTM slowdowns are simply imperceptible – common in web browsers – they are actually noticeable with VoIP traffic. So if you are going to install a second circuit, it is best to consider a second firewall while you are at it.
Fortunately, you do not have to pay for a UTM subscription. Why? That is because dedicating the second firewall to your cloud-based VoIP already gives you the ability to utilize a much simpler configuration. In addition, you no longer have to apply all of the subscription-based UTM features (e.g. anti-malware, filtering of URLs, intrusion prevention, etc.). You just have to choose a firewall that can give you a good VoIP application layer getaway and customer support. That is it. Of course, just make sure you test everything else before committing. Remember: Not every firewall out there is compatible with every available phone system.
Bonus Tip: Separate Phone Network From Computer Network
If you want to get the best out of your cloud-based VoIP, consider separating your phone network from the computer network physically. This means separating Cat5e or Cat6e cable runs which are dedicated to the phones. The same thing must also be done with your internet for the phones. If you think this is impossible to make due to budget or infrastructure reasons, try to consult a VoIP provider for an alternate solution.
At the end of the day, you want to ensure that your business has direct access to engineers at a helpdesk level. This is to make sure that you only get the absolute best when it comes to overall knowledge and support. In other words, you can just easily pick up a phone or write an email and be directly in contact with someone who knows how to handle anything about cloud-based VoIP. You surely do not want to deal with an inexperienced, low-skill tech. It is just a complete waste of your money, patience, and time. So, always demand what is best and nothing less. Remember: Time to resolution is – and will always be – everything in any IT community.
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