Subtitle. VoIP Migration Strategy. Keys to a Successful Planning and Transition. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

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1 Subtitle VoIP Migration Strategy Keys to a Successful Planning and Transition VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

2 Contents Introduction... 3 VoIP Defined... 3 Why Are Businesses Opting to Migrate to VoIP?... 3 What to Consider When Preparing to Switch... 3 Important Questions to Ask VoIP Service Providers... 3 Cost-Effectiveness, Mobility, and QoS... 5 Cost-Effectiveness... 5 Mobility Options... 6 The Importance of Quality of Service (QoS)... 6 Research, Compare and Select the Right VoIP Service... 7 IP PBX... 7 Managed IP PBX... 8 Hosted IP PBX... 8 Planning and Making the Migration to VoIP... 9 Training... 9 LAN Assessment... 9 Why Migrating to VoIP is a Good Choice The Future of VoIP in the Workplace References: VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

3 Introduction VoIP Defined Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), at its very essence, is an Internet connection that uses a telephone line. With VoIP, digital data is formatted with Internet Protocols and data packets are sent along the analog phone lines. VoIP includes voice, data, and video conferencing. Data conferencing is done via whiteboard applications, where text and documents are shared in real time so employees can go over the materials together. It can be used with audio and video conferencing sessions. Why Are Businesses Opting to Migrate to VoIP? With the number of different types of PBXs to choose from, VoIP has become an important alternative for many types of businesses. VoIP significantly lowers telecommunications costs, and merges voice and data networks into one seamless system. VoIP also creates a platform for easy one-click communications and conferences, which enable remote employees to collaborate on projects without having to be in the office. VoIP apps are designed with the user in mind, they are easy to manage and control. Even better, VoIP is readily scalable, which allows businesses to add or eliminate phone lines with ease. What to Consider When Preparing to Switch Important Questions to Ask VoIP Service Providers How can their VoIP be used by the business? What important benefits and features will it provide that traditional PBX services don t? VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

4 Is VoIP compatible with the business's current telecommunications equipment and networks? Is it easy and quick for employees to learn? Are all the features offered necessary, or is it possible to get a smaller, more cost-effecient VoIP package that only has what the company needs? Is the service scalable? Can more phone lines be added over time at minimal cost to the business? Is the service reliable over a long period of time? What do current or former customers say about the VoIP service provider in their reviews? Often, a good hint as to whether or not a VoIP service is reliable will be given in the reviews. Careful consideration prior to signing on a contract will ensure that the chosen VoIP service provider is a reputable source. Is VoIP compatible with the company s current data network? Will the VoIP program work with the app infrastructure? Are the VoIP service provider fees comparable with other vendors, or is there a better, cheaper, service available to use? What is their billing structure, and are there any hidden fees? What type of devices will need to be purchased, or rented, in order to use VoIP? Leasing eliminates future costs of upgrading obsolete equipment when new products are released. What kind of security does the VoIP provide? Does the VoIP service have standard firewalls, or do they have custom made security protocols to ensure that proprietary or sensitive information, such as credit card account numbers, remains confidential? Does the VoIP service has a transition app that will transfer all saved phone numbers and auto-features on the existing phone lines and move them over to VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

5 the new PBX service? This feature, if provided, is a time saver for small and medium sized businesses, as it doesn't require a user to manually input clients and employees contact information. Cost-Effectiveness, Mobility, and QoS After the initial decision to migrate to VoIP has been made, there are many things to consider when looking for a service provider, such as cost-effectiveness, mobility options, and Quality of Service (QoS). Cost-Effectiveness Selecting a VoIP service provider may prove to be a daunting task at first, because there are so many providers out on the market now. One of the main things to consider when selecting a VoIP service is cost-effectiveness. Is it cheaper to go with a VoIP company whose apps are minimalistic, or does your company require more from its VoIP service? Initial start-up costs for VoIP include installation, employee training, and maintenance fees. Installation of a VoIP network is typically a one-time service fee that is added to the first monthly bill. This fee will vary, depending on whether or not a new LAN network needs to be installed in the office. Keep in mind that installation will require routers, phones, and networking equipment such as Ethernet cables, and webcams for video conferencing. Often, a service technician will be able to configure connections and use existing telephone lines in the building; eliminating the need to pay for costly rewiring of a network. However, if the current network does not have the required upload/download speed, a new router or network that can handle the data speed of the VoIP service will need to be installed. VoIP service providers should have a list of what all of these things will cost. If they aren't up front about how they do their billing, then consider an alternative service that is more friendly and honest with its customers. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

6 Mobility Options VoIP enables remote desktop work, so employees can get business done without having to be tied to a desk at the office. VoIP can be used on traditional computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones: an employee can be in constant contact with customers and supervisors, to ensure fast and efficient service. This saves money for businesses that wish to enable telecommuting, as the majority of the workforce will not require a large rented building to work from and they can work from home instead to save overhead costs. VoIP also allows connecting offices that are located in different areas of the country. This is especially useful for customer service phone calls, as the calls can be routed from an office that is closed, to one in a different time zone that is still open. Using VoIP also reduces long-distance phone call costs. Since the calls are placed over the Internet, instead of a traditional phone land-line, there is no long distance toll applied to the calls. The Importance of Quality of Service (QoS) Essentially, QoS is how well a voice call is received and sent out. The voice call is turned into a data packet that is sent to the receiving computer of the VoIP call. Average Required VoIP Bandwidth: kilobits/second for uncompressed VoIP calls kbps for compressed calls VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

7 If there is too much data traffic, such as video feeds from conference apps, or massive s, this can cause a delay in sound, stuttering, or jittering of the VoIP call. Make sure that the IT specialist programs the VoIP priorities so that the calls are given the most bandwidth by the app. If the current network has slow upload/download speeds, it will need to be replaced with current, and faster, networking equipment. The choice of a VoIP service provider can also affect QoS. Some vendors are more reputable than others, so it's important to see what other customers are saying about their products prior to purchasing it. Another option to consider is hiring an IT representative. While the idea of initially hiring IT reps to work on-site on a regular basis may seem like a money sink, it saves businesses money by not having to call in service to expensive IT firms that charge $300 and up per hour to come in and fix a phone line. Research, Compare and Select the Right VoIP Service There are four different types of VoIP to consider: IP PBX, Managed IP PBX, Hosted IP PBX, and Converged Voice and Data Service. IP PBX Small businesses may want to consider using an Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange (IP PBX). An IP PBX works like a traditional phone switching system used to manage phone calls, it is connected to the main phone line, and with the help of user selected settings, it will route incoming calls to extension lines. It manages multiple phone lines in the office, and routes internal and external calls to the proper extensions. This type of VoIP services utilizes a computer server to manage all phone calls, and uses a console to manually control the calls. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

8 Managed IP PBX A managed IP PBX is a VoIP service that is maintained and managed by the service provider it is purchased from. Managed IP PBXs are rented out; the service provider charges a flat monthly rate based on the number of phones or telephone lines that are utilized. This service is convenient as the provider not only installs the equipment, it maintains, upgrades, and fixes any problems that may arise during usage. It is like having insurance on the telecommunications system; the business pays a monthly fee and in return, it is protected from VoIP system failures as the service provider is always available to fix any problem. Hosted IP PBX Managed IP PBX and Hosted IP PBX are sometimes used interchangeably to mean the same type of service. However, they are not the same. Managed IP PBX servers are kept on-site, whereas Hosted IP PBX servers and the equipment that runs them are at a remote location, and the VoIP connects to it via the Internet. Also called Virtual PBX, the Hosted IP PBX is a remote service, wherein service providers allow businesses to rent servers and equipment that route phone calls, and switch lines for call transfers. This equipment works with IP PBX and traditional land lines. All management of a hosted VoIP is done by the service provider at a remote location, which frees up valuable office space, and reduces rent and heating/ cooling costs for a business. Like managed IP PBX, hosted IP PBX relies on the service provider's employees to maintain the quality of service so that no phone calls are dropped during use. Overall hosted IP PBX services tend to be the cheapest form of VoIP for businesses, as there is a minimal need to purchase new telecommunications equipment. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

9 Planning and Making the Migration to VoIP Once a VoIP service is chosen, and a reliable service provider has been contacted, a business must select the number of phone lines and other IP PBX features that employees will require to get their jobs done. Training Not just IT staff needs to know how to use all of the functions of the new VoIP applications. All employees need to learn how to use the new VoIP system, according to their function and specific use, so it is important have a training plan in place. Things like learning about the VoIP features, how to troubleshoot problems like dropped calls, and so on, can save a lot of time and frustration for future clients that are placing VoIP calls to your business. Depending on the types of features selected for the VoIP service, a business may need to set aside time to train employees on how to use them. Features such as video conferencing or data sharing with a whiteboard application may require some dedicated payroll hours for people to learn how to use them. LAN Assessment Once a VoIP service provider is selected, they often offer to assess existing LAN systems to see if they need to be replaced before the VoIP equipment is installed. The parameters that are looked at are network performance, such as up and download speeds, the availability of the network, and if it can be scaled, or added onto without any adverse effects, the average bandwidth that the LAN can handle during normal hours, and peak hours when a lot of data traffic occurs. Often, LAN systems need to be updated to new equipment, such as routers, that can handle the increase in data traffic caused by voice calls and video conferencing done with the VoIP apps. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

10 Businesses with pre-installed LAN systems will need to have them checked for QoS parameters to determine if the lines can handle VoIP phone calls without having them lose sound. It may be possible to run a VoIP network over digital PBX wiring that has been previously installed. Some VoIP providers have equipment that can transform digital and analog data signals, allowing the business to patch the VoIP system into Cat3 wiring to create a hybrid VoIP system. Once the LAN is assessed, required equipment such as standard VoIP phones, gateways/routers, and other devices as needed are installed. Businesses have a choice of renting or purchasing VoIP office phones from the service provider. Why Migrating to VoIP is a Good Choice While traditional landlines are still in use today, the speed and versatility of VoIP services points to traditional phone companies having to make the move to becoming VoIP providers in the future. Hybrid PBX services, that use traditional phone lines to send data packets for phone calls, will most likely be the next step in evolution in the telecommunications field. The Future of VoIP in the Workplace Wireless VoIP uses WiFi networks to connect to VoIP services. WiFi is a relatively new development in VoIP. Wireless VoIP phones are cell phones that can use WiFi networks to connect to the Internet. Like regular VoIP phones, these phones send data packets. The only difference is that they are connected via wireless receiver. They typically do not use a lot of bandwidth to place calls on. However, if they are used in an area with a lot of other types of data traffic, such as video conferencing over WiFi, QoS will suffer and voice calls will experience breaking up or dropped calls. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

11 Internet hotspots can be used to eliminate this problem, and they can be programmed to make voice calls a priority, which gives the data packets a larger share of the data stream or bandwidth used during a phone call. This improves QoS, and ensures that communications aren't interfered with. Needless to say, migrating to VoIP services now will help businesses stay ahead of competitors that believe that changing from traditional PBX to IP PBX is too expensive. As more businesses transition over to VoIP, service providers will become more competitive in their effort to gain more clients and this of course, will drive the cost of VoIP services for businesses down. Whether older telecommunications companies agree or not, VoIP is here to stay. VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

12 References: Data Conferencing, (n.d.) PC Magazine.com, Retrieved June 28, Gherbaz, Graeme, Why VoIP is an investment in effective communication, (n.d.) July 11, 2012, Retrieved June 28, Hosted PBX, (n.d.) Webopedia, Retrieved July 1, How Voice of IP (VoIP) Works, (n.d.) Cisco, Retrieved June 28, ers_better/how_voip_works/index.html Kowalke, Mae, Migrating to VoIP: Preparation and Justification, March 8, 2006, TMCnet.com, Retrieved June 24, Managed PBX, (n.d.), VOIP Info, Retrieved July 1, Perry, Mike, Five Steps to Ensuring a Successful VoIP Migration, (n.d.) InContact, Retrieved June 24, 2014, Small Business PBX: The Basics, (n.d.) Cisco, Retrieved July 1, uctive/small_business_pbx/index.html The 10 Myths of Enterprise VoIP Migration, (n.d.) Citel White Paper Series, Retrieved June 26, 2014, Voice over IP FAQ, (n.d.) Cisco, Retrieved June 28, uctive/voip_faq/index.html Wilson, Tracy, How Wifi Phones Work, (n.d.) How Stuff Works, Retrieved July 1, VoIP Migration Strategy Compare Business Products

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