Accept Your Network as a Known Unknown

By Ed Basart  |  Posted 2010-08-29 Print this article Print

Tip No. 2: Accept your network as a known unknown

Many IT managers are rightfully proud of their network, but sometimes let their smugness interfere with ensuring network bandwidth and priority for UC traffic. UC brings a new set of real-time demands on a network and UC adoption places the network in a mission-critical role. Even with a new and expensive network, voice is especially sensitive to jitter and packet loss, so understanding network requirements for voice is critical-and learning its subtleties an absolute must. Inspecting, updating and configuring a network can help eliminate typical problems such as one-way audio, poor voice quality or disconnecting applications. Most networking and UC vendors offer services, tools and training to bring the network and the staff up to snuff.

Tip No. 3: Count your nines

Legacy TDM systems did an excellent job of delivering high availability (that is, "five nines" or 99.999 percent). As vendors developed UC systems, IT tools and servers were used as the platform. However, these systems typically deliver 99.9 percent or 99.99 percent-in other words, only three nines or four nines. A UC system built and delivered with these tools is 10 to 100 times less reliable than its legacy-based predecessor. Most UC vendors have addressed this issue and can provide enough redundancy to meet reliability requirements, albeit at additional cost and complexity. When evaluating a UC system, the IT manager must ask the vendor to take him through the system component by component and ensure that the UC system meets enterprise-level reliability requirements.

Ed Basart Ed Basart is Chief Technology Officer at ShoreTel. Ed cofounded ShoreTel in 1996. Ed is responsible for the long-range direction of ShoreTel's product R&D. In addition to ShoreTel, Ed also cofounded two other prominent companies, Network Computing Devices and Ridge Computers. At Network Computing Devices, Ed was vice president of engineering. At Ridge Computers, Ed served as vice president of software. Ed began his career as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard. Ed holds a Bachelor's degree from Iowa State University and a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He can be reached at

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