It’s plan time

Just as the Internet brought with it amazing new possibilities to serve Canadians, so now does Internet Protocol technology.

Leading government organizations are embracing IP because they have the vision to see what it can do for them and their citizens. In essence, IP technology is enabling governments as well as corporations to bring their voice and data communications networks together, and to deploy innovative and high-value applications.

Which is not to argue that there are no security issues at play: How, finally, do we know that a single IP network will remain secure? The greater the reach and availability of an organization’s network, the more vulnerable that organization is to threats.

Every IT and security professional needs to keep up-to-date on the top challenges to enterprise security and how to address them. By so doing, they will succeed in implementing a conceptual, physical and procedural framework for high-performance, multi-level, multi-faceted security that protects campus networks, data centres, branch networking, remote access, wireless LANs and IP voice services.

According to Paul Rowe, Bell Canada’s vice-president of marketing in charge of IP services, the key lies in planning and preparedness. Government departments, Rowe says, should partner with a company that has the proven expertise, innovation and execution to do the due diligence and design what’s possible, working with the latest technologies and knowledge.

“If they take this approach, governments are sure to realize increased operational efficiencies and at the same time make technology work for them, in the background, as they increase their effectiveness in continuing to find new ways to serve Canadians and Canadian businesses better,” Rowe said. Security considerations aside, however, IP technology continues to make strides. At Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., for example, network administrators were continually asked to look at IP-based voice, video and data applications over a single, common corporate network.

At the time AECL was encountering challenges with its existing legacy infrastructure; it wasn’t able to modify its network capability, and it was incurring high inter-exchange mileage and maintenance costs on obsolete network components. In December 2003, AECL responded with an IP VPN (virtual private network) that enables a broad range of applications – including voice and video. The result has been AECL has reduced its overall communications network costs by 23 per cent, simplified its network, improved its overall network functionality and positioned itself to benefit from future technology enhancements as its business needs evolve.

When it comes to network expenses, the promise of IP telephony has been to reduce the costs of moves, and changes by as much as 90 per cent by creating employee self-serve capabilities. The fact is, however, that evolving to IP has largely been an event-driven phenomenon, caused by the need to replace aging PBX systems or to add new locations. In order to maximize savings, widespread operational adoption needs to occur.

Bell Canada’s Rowe has a warning for those who are considering implementing an IP voice solution: Don’t fall for the hype. Understand what IP and IP voice solutions have to offer.

It’s important to recognize that realizing cost savings is dependent on having effective internal business processes and security policies in place. Choose a network partner that understands your current network configuration and how you are using it, and then works with you to propose a solution that will meet your needs – evolving at a pace that is right for you.

There is no doubt that IP voice solutions have captured the imagination. But, how do we know it’s the right solution? How do we know it’s going to work, all the time, and that it won’t compromise the reliability we’ve come to expect from traditional phone service? From a reliability standpoint, the major barrier to success is organizational. The greatest technologies won’t yield desired results unless they are engineered and operated appropriately. Traditional IP networks evolved from PCs and PC local area networks (LANs) to bridged and ultimately switched and routed networks. At the same time, applications have evolved from e-mail and file transfers to IP voice, increased mobility and collaboration. Due to real-time requirements for IP voice and other applications like video, existing practices and procedures for capacity planning and performance management are likely outdated and may have to be redesigned when implementing an IP voice solution.

Elaine Dean ([email protected]) is Senior Associate Director, Enterprise Marketing Communications.

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