A battle for control

For decades, voice and data have coexisted peacefully in similar yet separate worlds – data surrounded by routers, packets and best effort service; voice partnered with PBXs, circuit switching and ‘five nines’ (99.999 per cent) reliability.

Gradually, though, voice and data are coming together. Many big-name vendors, including Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies, have a voice/data convergence strategy and technology designed to allow voice and data to travel over one network that is starting to appear.

The convergence of voice and data raises a number of issues. The most discussed question is whether data networks can offer the same reliability enterprises are accustomed to getting from their voice networks.

But another key issue, often overlooked, is the question of who will manage the converged network. Most large enterprises currently have a telecommunications group in charge of the voice network and an IT group responsible for the data network. If voice and data are moving from two separate networks onto one, then clearly the enterprise telecommunications group and the enterprise IT group must also come together.

So who’s in charge of the converged network – IT or telecom?