Monday, May 05, 2008

Who Would You Choose For Your Business Voice/Data Network Switches, Hubs, Etc. .... Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, Foundry, 3Com, Lucent, Juniper Or ??

No matter your situation ..... in the end the real answer is what you're going to be most comfortable with in a support and operations perspective. There's much to choose from so don't be overwhelmed by your options ..... Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, Foundry, 3Com, Lucent, JuniperMitel, Vodavi, ShorTel, Fonality, and a host of others are at your finger tips. Simply think it through and match your need to the capability of each.

Here's a few suggestions ...............

A Cisco 3800 series router would be perfect for terminating a DS3 connection at a branch location. If you're backbone is Cisco then it's best to stick with Cisco for end to end connectivity. You never want to get into the situation where Cisco is blaming Nortel and vice versa.

Going down the line of other things you would end up using at this location just by going with Cisco can save you some money.

16 Port switch modules in the router can save you big on switching if the needs are small and can be migrated to a bigger dedicated switch later down the road. These are great when you have a small telco closet that you have to squeeze everything into. After that you're looking at 3550 switches with POE so you can power WiFi and business VoIP if the office is to use those technologies. I am not sure if the 16 port switch modules can support POE so that would be a consideration.

If you want to justify the choice of any particular vendor look at any group of job postings. They ask for Cisco network experience not Nortel experience. Makes things much easier when trying to find tech's who are able to work on the equipment.

Whether it is a business startup or a new remote branch office, then Cisco would be a great option. Today, it doesn't make much sense to have disparate networks. A network for voice and a network for data. In addition, many companies are running a wireless network and a video network. Security has to be addressed and it gets very complicated and expensive to maintain, manage, and operate all of these networks. Not to mention the cabling costs associated.

When it comes to IP Telephony and VoIP, voice is now treated like an application. Voice packets have to travel from point A to point B safely, securely, and without latency to insure best voice quality. In my opinion, no company moves data packets better than Cisco. The market share they have in regards to their switches, routers, and voice products back that up.

Cisco is flexible in this scenario as well because this location would just need a Cisco switch and a Cisco router which is needed anyway for the data network. The call processing and security can be imbedded in the the routerand there's your voice/data network on one platform...just add phones. Switch, Router, Phones. Switch, Router, Phones. As this company grows and more offices are utilizing the cisco platform for voice/video/data, all of call processing and managability can easily managed at 1 central location. IT Departments are streched to thin, why not provide them with a rock solid solution and make there lives easier? In regards to a prior comment, I would venture to say more people are promoted than fired when they go with Cisco.

In reality this decision is not straightforward and will depend on many factors. What is important to your project may not be important to others.

A couple of issues you should consider that tend to get forgotten when evaluating vendors:

1. How "manageable" is it?

What is your strategy for managing this platform? (If you haven't got one then you should formulate one). Will this strategy encompass other vendors and systems (like servers, applications, etc.) and if it does you should consider how you deal with this. This usually mandates moving beyond the vendor's own limited tools at some point.

If you do need to use third-party management tools, how easy will this be? Does the vendor (for instance) have good SNMP support. Some vendors have very poor SNMP support (not much more than MIB2) and this can make management of their equipment very difficult. Some vendors require you to interface to their element management system and this can be costly and problematic. If your network is simple, this may not be a major problem.

Remember, "management" encompasses not just configuring the system, but fault management and alerting, impact assessment, config management, performance monitoring, and reporting.

2. How easily can you get skilled resources?

Whether this is through training existing staff, recruitment of new staff, or contractors for specific projects or to help out in emergencies it is important to know how easily and cost-effectively it is to get skilled staff with knowledge and experience of your chosen equipment.

Whatever direction you decide to go for a computer network hardware solution with YOUR business ..... or if you've decided and are looking for a local vendor ..... you can get help finding the right fit for local support from multiple vendors including Cisco, Nortel, HP and more by using this convenient search and compare resource:

Network Hardware and PBX Phone Systems

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