Best Practices for deploying unified communications together with SIP trunking connectivity

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1 An Allstream White Paper Best Practices for deploying unified communications together with SIP trunking connectivity An Allstream White Paper 1

2 Table of contents Correct identification and maximization of benefits 1 Network assessment 1 Evaluation of the service provider s SIP trunking offer 2 UC features and network design 2 Pilot or lab testing 3 ROI calculation 3 Session Border Controllers (SBCs) 3 Migration path to higher value SIP applications 3 A real life deployment Thomson Tremblay 4

3 Best Practices for deploying UC together with SIP trunking connectivity Why SIP trunking? Adopting a SIP trunking based voice connectivity solution is a strategic transformational decision for an enterprise. It moves the organization forward: towards an all IP communication environment where advanced unified communications (UC) applications can bring significant and measureable productivity gains. To be successful, the transition to SIP trunking and the introduction of a UC system need to be carried out in partnership with leading industry vendors and providers of telecom services. Those partners must have demonstrated consistent depth of expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction. Organizations that deploy UC solutions in conjunction with Allstream SIP Trunking benefit from a proven and powerful combination of advanced technology, global connectivity reach and superior levels of service. Any SIP trunking/uc implementation requires solid planning and careful consideration of a wide range of elements. This document will examine and recommend some best practices for planning and deploying a SIP trunking architecture alongside a UC solution. It will also present information regarding a real life UC/Allstream SIP Trunking installation. Correct identification and maximization of benefits The list of benefits that an organization can expect from a transition from traditional network connectivity to SIP trunking is impressive. This list can include: Dramatically lower communications costs (near elimination of PRI and business lines subscriptions and gateways, lower long distance fees, etc.) Better bandwidth utilization Increased scalability and flexibility Higher network availability resulting in better business continuity provisions Telephony presence in geographical areas where an organization has no physical presence More efficient network management and administration Accelerated UC deployment through simpler network design Easy evolution to mobile and cloud based applications It is important to go through this list and determine which items are the highest priority objectives for your specific requirements. Doing so will help you estimate the benefits you ll achieve and guide you in the development of your implementation plan. This knowledge will also enable you to more accurately plan your equipment and service purchases in order to avoid oversubscribing or acquiring equipment and features that do not contribute directly to your objectives. If you re unsure about how to make that determination, engage the help of a quality SIP trunking service provider and have them work with you to undertake a detailed evaluation of your current and future business needs. Network assessment The importance of a thorough network assessment before any major network upgrade cannot be overstated. Such upgrades, like a transition to SIP trunking, are difficult to carry out if they are not based on a comprehensive understanding of the current network architecture and its components and capabilities. In order to determine if your network is ready to support SIP trunking and the deployment of a new or enhanced UC system, it is recommended that you go through the following steps: Ensure that you have an up to date network configuration diagram that includes all geographic locations that your organization is considering for the upgrade. Identify and record all devices (gateways, switches, routers, etc.) currently connected to your LAN or WAN networks, making sure they are updated to the latest s/w version and that they are compatible with the technical requirements for SIP trunking and UC. If they are not, identify the additional licenses that might be required to bring the installation to the necessary level of compatibility. Perform a LAN traffic analysis, identify patterns and assess the availability of unused bandwidth. Check the availability of VLAN features in your LAN devices. In certain situations, it may be necessary to steer voice traffic onto a separate VLAN. 1

4 An Allstream White Paper Check the availability of QoS capabilities on the LAN. They may be useful in prioritizing traffic and ensuring better voice quality. Verify the interoperability of current network devices with the type of equipment and services that you plan to deploy as part of the upgrade. Review all existing security, fallback and management procedures currently in effect for your network. Reach out to your service provider for assistance if you are unsure how to correctly perform any of these steps. Evaluation of the service provider s SIP trunking offer Carefully examine the parameters of the SIP trunking service you are considering. Ensure that it delivers the features you need in order to attain your deployment objectives. Here are some of the things you may want to inquire about: Check interoperability with the UC platform that you have chosen to deploy in your network. Leading providers are normally certified with platforms from major UC vendors like Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), Mitel MCD, Avaya Aura, etc. Providers may offer interoperability testing for custom applications or third-party provided non-certified equipment. Check the type of data access offered by the provider. Ideally they should offer both, MPLS (Multiple Protocol Label Switching) and direct Internet access. MPLS access is generally more expensive but delivers higher quality voice due to built-in QoS and traffic engineering provisions. If phone presence in multiple areas is important to you, make sure the provider offers Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers with as many area codes as possible. Find out how the provider is charging for long distance calls. You should see significant savings, as with SIP trunking, many long distance calls will become local calls. If security is a critical concern, check if the provider supports encryption at the transport layer through TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol and whether it can encrypt the voice data stream with SRTP (Secure Real Time Protocol). Both features ensure that voice communication through SIP trunks is difficult to intercept or tamper with. Redundancy is always important. Ensure that your SIP trunking provider offers back up SIP interfaces (termination points) that can be used when connection to the main interface has failed. Some providers may offer fail over/fail back provisions based on PRI lines or Internet access. Ability to use both G.711 and G.729 voice encoding standards. G.729 offers better bandwidth utilization, while G.711 delivers better quality and can also handle most FAX transmissions. Ability to support the T.38 protocol that transports FAX data over IP networks with no need for G.711/G729 encoding. Capacity of the provider to route 911 calls to the correct emergency call center based on current location information provided by the enterprise. Make sure the service provider offers stringent SLAs guaranteeing a high degree of service availability. UC features and network design The large number of features available with advanced UC platforms is far beyond the scope of this document. It is important to remember that some of the features are optional and the most cost effective approach is to focus on features which solve your most pressing issues. In addition to the many classic voice features (call waiting, 3-way calling, autoattendant, hunt groups, etc.), today s communication systems offer modern feature categories such as: mobility (cellular and wifi based), presence, collaboration, unified messaging, etc. Choose your options wisely! Discuss UC equipment options with your service provider to ensure you select all the features that best serve your objectives. It is also important to choose a network configuration that fits your particular installation and business priorities. Choosing a centralized SIP trunking architecture where all PSTN interfaces and most UC functionality are consolidated at a central location is a very attractive alternative from a financial perspective. However, other considerations, like the size of the deployment, redundancy requirements, the current configuration of the MPLS access network and others, may lead to a strong case for a distributed SIP trunking 2

5 Best Practices for deploying UC together with SIP trunking connectivity configuration where each location has its own connectivity and UC capabilities. There will be of course, situations where there is merit to both approaches; then hybrid architecture may be the optimal choice. Your service provider understands the benefits, costs and trade-offs of each approach, talk to them to make sure you select the best configuration for your needs. Pilot or lab testing A pilot, or a proof of concept, is one of the most effective tools in ensuring the success of a UC/SIP trunking solution. The pilot needs to involve a small initial roll-out with a limited number of users. It should be designed to test the essential elements of the final installation while avoiding large business risks for the organization. Sometimes a true pilot test may be too difficult or expensive to organize. A faster, simpler, albeit not as thorough, alternative is a lab test or a staging for the main components of the solution. A lab test is a good opportunity to straighten out last minute problems that might have been overlooked during the design stage. ROI calculation To arrive at a correct ROI estimate for a UC/SIP trunking solution, ensure that your calculations consider only the parameters that apply in your particular installation. For SIP trunking, the disappearing PRI fees and gateways, the elimination of support costs on old TDM PBX parts and long distance savings contribute significantly to a quick and positive ROI. There are many ready-made ROI calculators designed by consultants or equipment and services vendors. Those can be quite useful if you can accurately determine which of their many inputs to consider. Session Border Controllers (SBCs) Installing an SBC device for terminating SIP trunks at the edge of your network can bring a number of important advantages: Resolution of NAT (Network Address Translation) issues that may appear when using certain SIP phones or terminals Call Access Control (CAC) features that enable the link to admit only as many calls as it can accommodate Ability to dynamically release available voice bandwidth so it can be used by data traffic SIP firewall functionality that enhances the overall security of the UC traffic Make sure you consult the service provider before selecting a particular SBC solution for your SIP trunking deployment. Migration path to higher value SIP applications Once an organization has successfully deployed SIP trunking and UC, it should consider taking advantage of the new possibilities offered by a SIP based fully converged voice and data infrastructure. SIP was designed at the onset to carry more than voice traffic. When using a SIP infrastructure, an enterprise can simultaneously deploy applications like presence, instant messaging, video-conferencing, common virtual white-boarding, alarm distribution, machine to machine communications and more. These applications will fully leverage SIP s advanced capabilities to bring the enterprise significant and lasting productivity benefits. A calculated ROI can serve as a benchmark in monitoring the business performance of your solution and in making the necessary adjustments if required. 3

6 An Allstream White Paper A real life deployment Thomson Tremblay Company Thomson Tremblay is a Québec based placement and recruitment firm that has been in business for over 40 years. It offers its customers a variety of HR solutions and candidate resources. Situation Thomson Tremblay s telephone system was a traditional non-networked TDM system using older PBXs with business lines providing connectivity to the PSTN. The system was falling behind the company s changing business needs. The business line connections were expensive and complex to manage. There was no IP functionality to enable more modern applications, nor were there performance monitoring or tracking capabilities. Objective Thomson Tremblay needed a state-of-the-art telephone system and communications network that could consolidate all voice and data traffic, centralize IT and communications management while at the same time, allow for long-term strategic growth. In particular, the new system had to always be available. High availability required redundancy provisions that would ensure continuous connectivity in case of a component outage. Solution Allstream recommended a Cisco UC system connected to PSTN through Allstream SIP Trunking with access to SIP trunks provided via the MPLS based Allstream Business IP service. Working in close coordination with Thomson Tremblay, the Allstream team installed a Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) unit in each of Thompson Tremblay s two main locations: Montreal and Laval. Both locations have SIP trunk connectivity accessed through Ethernet 10Mbps connections to the Allstream MPLS network. This ensures PSTN connectivity for all seven Thomson Tremblay sites. High availability is ensured through the dual SIP trunking interface as well as the use of two Allstream termination points for the SIP trunks. In case of IP connectivity loss, the Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) features of the Cisco 2900 routers at the edge of the network provide basic (FXO lines) connectivity to PSTN and the capability (FXS lines) to connect simple POTS telephone sets in case of SIP service interruptions. The expected performance parameters and functional benefits were tested and proven in the Allstream lab prior to installation. Benefits Significant savings in business line fees, hardware and maintenance Integrated communications infrastructure combining voice, data and centralized management Access to DIDs in all Canadian area codes Access to productivity enhancing features like presence, collaboration, teleconferencing, etc. Highly scalable network that can accommodate future growth Improved customer service with live call response and direct routing Reduced operational costs and improved productivity Improved failover capacity and business continuity, as calls can be re-routed in case of outages Enhanced capabilities including call monitoring, reporting and recording Lessons learned SIP trunking delivers measurable cost savings and operational efficiencies Quality SIP trunking service increases reliability and improves business continuity Lab testing of a UC/SIP trunking solution solution ensures deployment success UC features significantly improve productivity and the ability to provide superior customer service Allstream SIP Trunking combined with Unified Communications is a proven solution providing advanced capabilities that deliver significant, measurable and lasting productivity gains. 4

7 About Allstream Allstream is the only national communications provider working exclusively with business customers. Our focus is helping you simplify IT operations to improve productivity, maximize performance and manage costs. Our IP solutions are delivered on a fully managed, fully secure national network and backed by our industry-leading commitment to customer service: The Allstream Service Guarantee. Driven by the expertise of our 2,500 employees across Canada, we operate a 30,000 km fibre-optic network combining advanced IP connectivity, digital switching, Ethernet-featured services, and the latest security technologies. Our portfolio includes the highest-capacity voice, data and Internet connections, unified communications, and managed services, all flexibly designed for the needs of large, mid-market and small businesses. We can help you compete more profitably by converging voice and data over a single, reliable, end-toend infrastructure that delivers exceptional quality of service between metropolitan centres. For more information visit allstream.com/uc or allstream.com/siptrunking You can also contact Allstream directly at or Allstream 200 Wellington Street West Toronto, Ontario M5V 3G2 Call, visit or follow us at: blog.allstream.com WP_22260 V2 11/14 Allstream Inc.

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