COLT Telecom - VoIP For Enterprise Customers, a COLT Business Briefing
VoIP for Enterprise Customers:
A COLT Business Briefing
Data Voice Managed Services
1 The hype about VoIP 3
2 What is VoIP and what has it got to do with convergence? 4
3 What are the business benefits of VoIP? 5
4 Cost in the first instance, but agility in the long run 6
5 Why not just do telephony over the public internet? 7
6 A question of protocols 8
7 Is VoIP secure? 9
8 The big choices: revolution, evolution or migration 10
9 Opening up the future 12
SECTION 1: THE HYPE ABOUT VoIP
Hype is an occupational hazard in business: new fads, opportunities, and models
come along with increasing regularity, and you’ve got to take a long hard look at each
one of them before deciding to part with your cash or change the way you work. VoIP
– Voice over Internet Protocol – has been enthusing commentators and self-styled
visionaries for quite a while now. Allied with the subject of ‘Convergence’ – the coming
together of previously separate communications and computing services across into
one intuitive, easy to use network – VoIP has been touted as the way to cut costs
(both capital and operational), transform the way an organisation works (making it
more flexible and agile) and enabling business to be much more responsive to the
needs of their customers.
The test of any technology that’s been given a lot of hype is, of course, time. And all
the signs are that VoIP really is something that’s worth taking seriously. More and more
large enterprises are realising that they can deliver reduced costs and demonstrate
change in the way their people work. The buzz around VoIP has become more serious
over the last year, and many commentators are starting to talk about ‘VoIP coming
of age’ and promising us that the technology and applications that go with it
So, for once, there’s a distinct possibility that the hype is justified and real investment –
serious investment – is being allocated to VoIP. The talk around convergence isn’t so
esoteric anymore: it’s become very down-to-earth, and businesses are making very
real changes to the way they operate. And that trend isn’t confined to large
organisations – many medium and small ones are now identifying the benefits of
moving from a world of physical and fixed circuits to one based on IP connectivity.
Before we even try to get technical about the subject, let’s define VoIP, understand KEY POINTS:
what it has to do with convergence, and then work out exactly how you can benefit.
» The hype about VoIP is becoming reality
» Businesses of all sizes are taking VoIP seriously
» VoIP can help transform your communications strategies
SECTION 2: WHAT IS VOIP AND WHAT HAS IT GOT TO WITH CONVERGENCE?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) takes your words and turns them into digital packets The importance of VoIP is the fact that voice is the most significant communication
and sends them out across a data network to their destination. The packets are routed tool we use each day. The coming of email or text messaging or even the ability to
in the most efficient way possible over a data network and then reassembled at the share and swap complex files has not down-graded the power of the simple phone
other end to become the sound of your voice. Internet Protocol (IP) is the networking call. All the surveys show that the cost of calls – and therefore the amount of minutes
technology which computers use to communicate with one another. When you send an we spend talking through a fixed or mobile handset – is still a major part of the IT &
email, or share documents, or watch video, it’s all done in the same way using IP: every Telecoms costs of any organisation. The more we do business the more we talk, that’s
bit of information is chopped into packets, labelled, and then sent as quickly and a fact of life. The point about VoIP is that we can make talking to each other simpler
securely as possible to a place where it’s all put back together seamlessly. and cheaper, and ensure it integrates with a host of other clever applications that
make us more productive and responsive each and every day.
Over the last few years the concept of Convergence has received a lot of attention, and
has often been hidden by over enthusiastic descriptions of what it might mean for a In fact, many organisations have found that moving to VoIP has enabled them to
business and the way we all work. The hype has obscured the essence of what integrate mobility and a host of other applications into the way they work. That means
convergence is all about: simply, it’s the coming together of different means of that you could look at VoIP as the gateway to true convergence: it’s the point where
communication (voice) and computer (email, CRM, etc) applications onto one IP based most organisations start their journey to the future. Very few businesses are brave
infrastructure. Some experts like to talk about the three wires that enable our desks to be enough to rip out the past and introduce a completely new way of working in one
part of the business world: the power cord, the telephone cable, and the computer cable. revolutionary move. Most want to evolve into the future, gently nudging their people
We can’t do away with the first one, but we can do something about the other two. and systems into a new way of working, and then building on success as they reap
the benefits of each wave of change.
Convergence isn’t actually about technology; it’s about what you can do when you
make technologies work together in an open and easy way. And that makes perfect sense; VoIP is the perfect place to start as you move into the
converged future, and there are some very sound business reasons why that is the case.
» IP is the new common language
» Voice is still the predominant business communication tool
» VoIP is the catalyst for convergence
SECTION 3: WHAT ARE THE BUSINESS BENEFITS OF VoIP?
The story is very familiar: we all need to be more efficient, more responsive, and to cut By creating a single IP network that carries both data and voice, you can cut through that
costs at every opportunity so that we can be competitive. If we don’t do it, then someone complexity and reduce your costs while reducing your dependence on expensive PRI
else will. The struggle is always to do more with less. circuits. Recent research1 has found that companies who have moved to VoIP have
managed to cut their annual IT and Telecoms costs by up to 30%.
VoIP is one of those rare opportunities that enable you to do just that. Traditionally, a
Migrating your voice applications to your data circuits will no doubt raise the question of
business would have a telephone system and a data network: two sets of equipment, two
security and resilience. By using data circuits for voice calls, you will gain flexibility and
sets of people making them work and a lot of bills. Each physical site would need a PBX,
greater control over communications through the aggregation of traffic and the ability to
and remote workers, home workers, would dial in using the PSTN, incurring charges as
quickly reroute traffic in the event of unforeseen disruptions to maintain business continuity.
they do so. The set up is relatively rigid, and it’s complex to make changes and add
Confidentiality, both on and off network, is guaranteed as all your IP calls are carried on a
services: it becomes a big technical challenge that soaks up time and investment money.
dedicated network circuit and routed over a secure IP VPN2.
BENEFITS OF VoIP
You also spend less on the phone calls themselves. Calls over your IP infrastructure are free
Cost Savings when routed across your IP VPN. When someone in one branch calls a colleague the call is
» Free on-net inter site calls using an IP VPN
no longer routed out over of the PSTN because it’s contained within your private IP network
» No on-site gateways required
» Reduced dependence on expensive multiple PRI circuits for carriage of calls to PSTN For organisations that have a broadly or highly dispersed workforce, VoIP can start to make
» Optimised call breakout points an immediate impact on the bottom line. It also has a direct effect on the productivity of your
Security and Resilience people because they’re able to use the IP PBX functionality seamlessly and concentrate on
» Built with business continuity in mind what they do best.
» Seamless rerouting of traffic in the event of disasters thus avoiding costly disruptions to
the business 1
The Economist, October 12, 2006
» All IP calls are carried on dedicated network circuits and routed over a secure fully
encrypted IP VPN delivering business confidentiality both on and off network with no
Excludes public Internet version
carriage over the public Internet
» By using data circuits for voice calls, the customer will gain greater control over their
communications and how they aggregate their voice and data traffic which ultimately
brings cost and operational benefits
» Provides ability to seamlessly and cost effectively extend IP PBX based corporate
applications and features to wherever employees are operating KEY POINTS:
» Ensures IP PBX and handset functionality can be seamlessly utilised between sites so that
productivity gains are delivered across the business » VoIP saves money, simplifies networks and optimises resources
Reducing Risk » Enables mobility and presence strategies
» By operating data circuits for voice traffic, the customer can provide greater resilience to
their voice services through the provision of overflow capacity on data circuits » VoIP is secure
SECTION 4: COST IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, BUT AGILITY IN THE LONG RUN
VoIP will have a direct impact on costs for most organisations, especially those with The network tells the manager that their colleague is available to talk and makes the
distributed offices, field and remote workers, and a wide network of suppliers and connection through the appropriate device with just a few clicks of a mouse. Presence
partners, but that’s not the only reason to start thinking about using IP for voice calls. management solutions save time, make people more productive, and ensure that
customers get quick responses to their needs. Only an IP infrastructure can deliver
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that your organisation is ready to meet the that kind of power.
challenges of the present and the future. By untangling your infrastructure and
focusing your investment and expertise on a single IP network you can make your For many, VoIP is the start of that journey – and it enables them to build an IP
organisation flexible and responsive to the rapid change that characterises the 21st network. It’s a journey that will benefit from careful planning. You need to think
century economy. And, just as importantly, you can enable your people to become carefully about your objectives, it’s also important to think about security. One of the
more flexible, and to change the way they work. It’s important that individuals best ways to achieve all that is, of course, to use the experience of those who have
recognise the benefits of VoIP, and then put it to good use in their daily working lives; done it all before.
only then can you really make the most of the opportunity.
An IP network then gives you the ability to consolidate your voice applications and merge
them with more sophisticated methods of enabling your people to communicate with
an IP based network. You can integrate voice with multimedia applications such as
video conferencing which can support customer relationship solutions to make your
business more responsive to immediate needs and long term trends. You can stream
video, set up video conferencing very easily, and also use unified messaging solutions
that enable your network to sense the presence of your people on the network. The
latter application is one that’s getting a lot of attention at the moment. It’s sold on the
promise of making an organisation more transparent because, for instance, a manager
in one site can immediately see who is available, regardless of location to engage the
right resources on a call at short notice.
» VoIP delivers the platform to integrate applications
» VoIP isn’t just about saving money
» Your people become more flexible and responsive to customers
SECTION 5: WHY NOT JUST DO TELEPHONY OVER THE PUBLIC INTERNET?
VoIP is different to Internet telephony and whilst the general public have been making
the most of Voice over the internet for quite some time through various brands like
Skype there’s a big difference in providing enterprise scale VoIP over a secure and
specially designed network and one that uses the public internet for convenience
without service guarantees.
Issues over the quality of calls, the integrity of the service, the robustness of each
connection, and the need to secure each call as it goes in and out of your
organisation have convinced the great majority of businesses to go for their own IP
network. It’s important to be in control, and to ensure that you get the best possible
service for something as fundamental to your business as voice calls.
To deliver high quality real-time voice that doesn’t suffer from delay (the packets of
information getting held up out on the Internet) or jitter (when those delays vary) you
need to be able to guarantee Quality of Service. The public Internet treats a voice
packet the same way as any other, and so it might or might not get held up: any delay
over 50 milliseconds means that your voice gets distorted, and longer delays make
If you have to compress all the traffic that’s using a data circuit then quality will be
compromised, especially at busy times, which is when you need high voice quality the
most! So, it’s important to ensure that you have multiple inbound and outbound
channels on the circuit that’s plugged into your PSTN. This is where it’s vital to choose
the right codec3 so that you can have the right bandwidth available at all times, and
ensure that however busy you get there’s enough flexibility in your solution to ensure
that each call is perfect.
A codec is a device or program capable of digitally encoding an analogue voice stream.
» Enterprise VoIP is not Internet telephony
» It’s about QoS
» Plan your service carefully
SECTION 6: A QUESTION OF PROTOCOLS
When you have decided to make the transition to IP, there are two protocols you will
need to choose between – SIP and H.323 - which will enable your VoIP calls to be
carried across the PSTN. Ultimately your choice will often be a consequence of which
IP PBX you select.
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is an open industry multi-media signalling standard
that enables carrier voice equipment to work with your organisation’s IP based
network. The protocol ensures that a logical voice channel is opened and that’s known
as a SIP trunk.
Using an IP network means you don’t need to have separate PSTN and data circuits
on your premises, SIP supports a range of real-time communications like video,
Instant Messaging, user-based presence applications, as well as voice.
Similarly, H.323 does the same job and is a standard set by the International
Telecommunications Union to govern multimedia communications over a LAN. H.323
standards are helping traditional networks to offer new collaborative applications, and
are the foundation for a range of audio and video codec’s that compress and
decompress media streams.
All very technical, but vital when you’re ensuring that your IP network actually delivers
what it’s supposed to!
» IP PBXs offer two protocols – SIP and H.323
» Either protocol will deliver the functionality for your VoIP solution
» Your PBX selection often drives the protocol needed
SECTION 7: IS VoIP SECURE?
It can be. From the start it’s important to understand the vulnerabilities of VoIP, and
then to ensure that you work with a partner who can ensure the integrity of your
business operation as you migrate to an IP network.
VoIP causes a problem: its packets of information are time critical. They have to arrive
at the other end quickly and in the right order. They can’t be held up for long by a
firewall, or scanned randomly, and then delivered seconds or even minutes later like an
email or a file. As we’ve seen, any delay of 50 milliseconds or more causes echoes
and jitters and can make normal conversation impossible. That need for quick
transmission causes problems for security, and can make your network vulnerable.
Other issues include ‘Denial of Service’ attacks, malicious re-routing of calls, toll fraud,
ID spoofing and eavesdropping.
So, is it really secure? It is if you work with the right partners. You need to be able to
work with a provider who has the network infrastructure that can guarantee security
across its own network – one that isn’t as vulnerable to attack across the public Internet.
» Treat the security of VoIP the same as your data
» Optimise security settings to avoid loss of quality
» Choose the right partner to get the security levels correct
SECTION 8: THE BIG CHOICES: REVOLUTION, EVOLUTION or MIGRATION?
If you have not done so already, at some point in the very near future you’re going to If you want to use more remote or home workers then ensuring that they can have the
have to make a decision about VoIP and possibly, convergence. Do you resist the wave flexibility and access they need to do their work will cost you more because you need
of enthusiasm for both, or do you embrace the future wholeheartedly? As we’ve to maintain or modify two networks rather than just one. The inherent flexibility of a
mentioned, the choice doesn’t have to be one between doing nothing and ripping converged network means that you can develop the capabilities of your business and
everything you already own out and starting all over again: the market and the available make it more responsive quicker and for less expense.
options are much more sophisticated than that.
And, as we pointed out before, your existing PBX technology will, at some point in the
What’s clear is that the initial hype has been replaced with a determination to make future, have to be replaced and the vast majority of new systems will have IP technology
organisations more productive, flexible, and responsive to the needs of customers, and at its heart. Doing nothing might be an option, but it certainly isn’t a cunning plan.
IP networks are a key aspect of that effort.
Instead of doing nothing you could do something – something piecemeal and migrate
As an independent analyst, IDG, put it, “the effort which organisations are currently toward VoIP and convergence at a pace that suits you. You might focus your investment
expending on the transition to internet protocol voice will, in the long term, be rewarded on a new IP PBX and connect it to a TDM line to see how the technology works within
with lower infrastructure opex costs, reduced telephony tariffs and increased productivity your business and then wait to make the next move before you make a decision.
for their employees.” They found that almost three quarters of large organisations fully
expect to migrate their voice networks to IP-based systems by the end of 2008.
POSSIBLE CUSTOMER SCENARIOS
Sooner or later, all equipment becomes unreliable and uneconomical to run and you’ll Business has… Business wants… Solution
have to replace it with something. Traditional TDM PBX » To move to IP when it suits them Traditional voice
» To use existing TDM equipment, sweat the asset portfolio
» Interoperability/ management with sites that have IP PBXs
So, you will have to make a decision at some point, and the best decisions are always End of life PBX » To upgrade their PBX functionality IP Voice Solutions
taken when you have the time and space to think and plan for the future. » Clear ROI of upgrading VoIP Access
» VoIP connectivity
New location » New LAN IP Voice Solutions
Of course, doing nothing, for now, is an option. You’re existing voice and data networks » New PBX IP VPN
seem to be working fine as they are, and the importance of your voice traffic is critical to » New VoIP access VoIP Access
your business so why mess with it? By putting off the decision to converge your Plans to purchase a » To consolidate Voice and Data over single WAN IP Voice Solutions
networks you might be able to benefit from future technological improvements that make new IP PBX » To benefit from network convergence and retire PSTN lines VoIP Access
» Interoperability/ management with sites that have IP PBXs
the whole process cheap and easy to implement. That might be the case, but you risk An existing IP PBX » To maximise the functionality of the IP PBX VoIP Access
being left behind as your competition takes some hard decisions now and then reaps » To port some numbers (potentially using the
Internet option as a pilot)
the rewards of lower Capex and Opex costs, enabling them to deliver better value to » To pilot IP Access
A mixture of voice » A new IP PBX IP Voice Solutions
customers – your customers!
infrastructure and » To benefit from network convergence and retire PSTN lines IP VPN
networks » To simplify/converge their WAN/LAN VoIP Access
SECTION 9: THE BIG CHOICES: REVOLUTION, EVOLUTION or MIGRATION? cont...
You could rely on pure internet telephony but it doesn’t bring the guarantee of quality
you need to support your workers and your customers. As we’ve seen, VoIP using the
public internet isn’t up to meeting the rigorous demands of the commercial world so why
risk your productivity and reputation on the vagaries of contended internet channels.
COLT believes that it’s important to take into account all your needs and avoid any
piecemeal approach to either VoIP or convergence. By doing that you can be sure
that you’ll make the most of the potential of the technology. Not that that means you
have to do everything all at once, COLT believes that there are three distinct stages to
ensuring that you make the most of the opportunity.
» First, you need to create a converged infrastructure through a single platform.
That will serve to lower costs and VoIP Access assists in this stage.
» Second, you build an integrated suite of applications on that platform and
use them to drive efficiencies and new capabilities into your business.
» Third, you use single devices that deliver a unified experience to all your
people so that they are truly mobile and flexible.
So, the obvious conclusion is you need to take a decision now, or in the near future,
about your infrastructure. And if you’re unsure about making the step to VoIP, we can
work with you to trial VoIP over existing data circuits – a fact that reassures many,
removes the doubt and enables them to help justify the move to the management team
as well as the IT specialists.
» VoIP is happening
» There are many ways to embrace VoIP without making big changes
» Take the time to explore all your options and develop a clear plan of
action for embracing VoIP
SECTION 9: OPENING UP THE FUTURE
You won’t be surprised to learn that we believe COLT is best placed to deliver the So, we’re not just suppliers who deliver isolated elements that you then have to put
benefits of VoIP on the best possible terms. COLT VoIP Access will put a foundation in together into a coherent whole: we deliver the coherence and certainty you need so
place for you to build upon while achieving the necessary short term financial and that you can successfully (and at your own pace) deliver on your objectives.
That might mean that we won’t advise you to get rid of your existing PSTN right away
The wider COLT IP product portfolio – IPVPN, VoIP Access and IP Voice Solutions – so you can keep it going whilst you begin using IP telephony – or we might suggest
provide the flexibility to build the solution you need. piloting VoIP on one site so that you can ease your organisation into the future. Or, if
we believe you will benefit, we will suggest a complete migration of your whole
COLT wholly owns and manages a network infrastructure that spans most of Europe, organisation and then work with you to achieve it.
reaching 13 countries, 32 cities and over 10,000 buildings, with high quality links to
the rest of the world. It’s a high-quality network that is constantly being improved, In short, we will work with you to review your current position, advise on what benefits
serviced, and monitored. You get stringent SLA’s that are supported by local staff who will be generated by moving to VoIP, then work out a strategic plan that will get you
speak your language and respond swiftly to any problems as soon as they arise. from here to there most efficiently.
We have built our reputation for customer service on our ability to work with
ISSUES YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN MIGRATING TO VoIP
customers to deliver real results based on their own, very specific objectives. That
approach has won us numerous customer service awards over the years – a trend » What IP PBX do you have and is it compatible with VoIP Access?
that keeps on going with many recent accolades such as Frost & Sullivan’s 2007 » Will you need H.323 or SIP protocol?
Award for Best Customer Service. » Do you have an existing data network or one that will cope with voice?
» Do you want to put voice and data together?
The key to our reputation for customer service is the fact that we create partnerships » What is your overall bandwidth requirement?
that endure. They’re partnerships that are focused on the specific objectives of the
» How much bandwidth do you need per channel?
enterprise, and enable us to create a carefully worked out plan that takes into
» Will you need to port numbers?
account the unique needs of each customer as they migrate to a new world
» How much IP PBX programming will you need?
» How much TDM network will be cancelled?
» Have you already piloted the service?
SECTION 10: OPENING UP THE FUTURE cont...
By working with COLT you won’t have to deal with a variety of vendors and their
differing SLAs, to ensure you get a consistent user experience across your network.
And we’ll also ensure that all your stakeholders get real benefits from the whole
process – the benefits the hype has told them will be delivered! That means a Chief
Information Officer will see the benefits of investing in a single, converged
infrastructure and be able to measure them clearly. They’ll be able to see that
complexity had been reduced and how a whole new portfolio of integrated
applications designed to make the enterprise more mobile and flexible can be
The Network Manager will discover that more can be done for less. It’s the Holy Grail
of Network Managers everywhere. No longer will they have to juggle multiple budgets
that are attached to a series of networks – now there’s one network on which
everything can be done simply, and cost effectively. That means it becomes a real
asset to the business rather than a hindrance.
And, of course, the end user will enjoy the benefits of a converged world as they do
their work each and every day. They’ll find communicating with each other, and with
the outside world easier. They really will have the potential to have just one number on
one device! They will be able to work wherever they happen to be via their phone and
laptops and have as much access as they need to business critical applications. VoIP
is the start of the journey.
COLT’s focus is on taking the complexity out of communications and ensuring that KEY POINTS:
your network infrastructure is a real benefit to your business.
» COLT manages its own network throughout Europe
» COLT is renowned for award winning customer services
» COLT works with you to deliver financial and operational benefits
throughout the business