How to Prep the Network for Softphones

Voice over Internet Protocol has become a staple of enterprise communication. Leveraging the Internet for voice calls isn’t just convenient, but can also be considerably cost-effective compared to other legacy systems.

Last year, statistics showed that the vast majority of enterprises had VoIP solutions in place. MiBiz reported that 79 percent of U.S.-based companies used VoIP at at least one location last year, and that number is set to continue its upward trajectory. A Transparency Market Research study found that the global VoIP market is poised to expand at a compound annual rate of around 9.7 percent beginning in 2014. This will put the value of the sector at $136.76 billion by 2020, a considerable increase from the $70.9 billion seen in 2013.

However, as VoIP use continues to rise, enterprises users must be aware of the unique network challenges that its employees can face from the technology. IT teams must ensure that their company’s VoIP solution can properly support staff members’ communication needs and that all performance and utilization issues are addressed.

But just what types of problems can creep up with VoIP and how can businesses work to address these?

“Without the proper WAN support, numerous issues can appear with VoIP use, including patchy calls or disconnection.”

Issues with VoIP

Without the proper WAN support, numerous issues can appear with VoIP use, including patchy calls or disconnection. These can not only be incredibly frustrating, but can hamper the communication and collaboration abilities of users as well.

“WAN issues usually result from high latency, packet loss, jitter or temporary loss of the Internet connection and can result in everything from delayed voice to dropped calls,” noted VoIP Mechanic. “Bandwidth, or the available bandwidth that your VoIP connection can access, can have a direct effect on voice quality.”

Minnesota-based Bremer Bank experienced similar issues with its VoIP deployment before seeking out a solution. Even after putting additional MPLS circuits in place, the organization did not have the necessary redundancy in place – if a primary link failed, calls would be interrupted and dropped during failover.

As Bremer Bank and others have discovered, purchasing additional MPLS does not necessarily solve VoIP issues. Network World contributor Andy Gottlieb noted that this is also a particularly costly option, and some providers may not offer support for overseas locations.

“The traditional solution to avoiding WAN jitter problems is to buy MPLS to connect all of your locations together and implement their QoS system,” Gottlieb wrote. “[B]ecause MPLS is a very expensive solution that offers relatively little bandwidth for other, more bandwidth-intensive applications, even domestically it’s not an option for many enterprises.”

Because VoIP relies on Internet connectivity to function, call quality can suffer if the proper network support is not in place.

Because VoIP relies on Internet connectivity to function, call quality can suffer if the proper network support is not in place.

SD-WAN offers a solution

So what can businesses do to address performance issues with VoIP?

One of the best strategies is to implement an SD-WAN solution, such as Talari’s Software Defined THINKING WAN. This technology is able to measure the latency, jitter, packet loss and availability of every path across the WAN, and can make intelligent decisions about which path specific data packets should use. This way, the network is able to respond in real time to changing network conditions, ensuring that common issues impacting VoIP calls are avoided.

Cory Miller, Bremer Bank vice president of engineering services, noted that the company saw immediate improvement after installing its Talari solution. Dropped calls during failover and other quality issues became things of the past.

“Our staff at the branch never knew that the circuit had failed,” Miller said. “Before Talari, it would have brought business to a halt. With Talari, I’m assured granular QoS across every Talari-connected circuit.”

To find out how an SD-WAN solution could help boost the quality of your business’s VoIP system, contact Talari for a custom demo today.

Categories: Application Performance/Application Quality, IT Challenges, Network Reliability, Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN)

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