Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Smart Business: How To Manage Bandwidth Requirements For Multi-Media Applications

In an enterprise environment, voice and video over IP (VoIP) significantly reduces long distance telephone charges by transferring all long-distance voice data over the Internet connection. It also provides a means for rich multimedia applications converging video, voice and data in a single session. Since VoIP shares the Internet connection with other forms of traffic, it must compete with other applications for network bandwidth. In order to make VoIP a viable business application for this scenario, the quality of VoIP should be equal to the traditional PSTN/ISDN voice and video services.

A typical corporate network environment carries a broad mix of data traffic with different bandwidth needs. Bursty data applications, such as email and the web, have variable and unpredictable bandwidth requirements while streaming real-time applications such as voice and video demand consistent bandwidth allocation and minimal delays. While a 250 millisecond delay in an email or a Web page will probably not be noticed, a similar delay in a VoIP phone conversation or video conference would make conversation uneasy and cause callers to talk over each other.

Streaming applications like VoIP and videoconferencing require performance guarantees to ensure that they do not suffer from bandwidth contention from less critical applications and Internet traffic (e.g., non-critical Web browsing, large FTP file transfers, and P2P uploading/downloading of digital music files). A policy based quality of service (QoS) solution can ensure that your voice and video applications receive the bandwidth they require.

So what's the solution??

First....ensure your network is optimized for sufficent bandwidth....with room for expansion when/if necessary. For businesses with frequent multimedia applications such as videoconferencing....a minimum of DS3 Bandwidth is necessary. Perhaps OC3 for large companies with extensive multimedia load pressures on their network.

Second....allocate your network resources based on business priorities. A commercially available monitoring device will help you monitor and manage network and application performance. This allows you to prioritize traffic traveling over your WAN/Internet connection and guarantee bandwidth for timing-critical, real-time applications like VoIP and videoconferencing. Through such a device specific voice, video and multimedia traffic flows can be identified and the following actions can be assigned: minimum and maximum bandwidth; priorities; guaranteed rate (CBR); fairness; and control over the number of sessions allowed through the network.

Take control of your Internet and WAN resources to optimize the performance of your business-critical applications, VoIP and video traffic. Ensure sufficient bandwidth in your network for near term and expansion needs....and implement a monitoring system to manage the daily operations and priorities.

That's simply smart business.

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