Technology rolls out in two interrelated ways: The bits and bytes and the marketing. In the best rollouts, these happen in synch, or close to it.
The lead always is the marketing side. Whether it's convincing consumers to subscribe to VoIP or getting buy-in from workers, the push to convince people to use new products is the key. If that task fails, it doesn't matter how stable the platform.
That seems to be self evident and, to a certain extent, it is. But things get very complicated very quickly when the technology being deployed relies on the existence of a robust uderlying infrastructure. Over at Unified Communications Edge, I did a podcast with Psytechnics Vice President of Sales and Operations Mark Hemmert. He said the old ways of assessing how a network is working-passive measurements of jitter, delay, packet loss and other "network artifacts," as they are called-don't cut it in a world of video streaming and VoIP.
Using old-world techniques to handle new-age applications would mean that problems wouldn't register on the measuring devices until it was too late to keep them from affecting end users. The challenge of getting out ahead of problems is multiplied when the applications are knit together in an interdependent unified communications mesh.
The same basic issue is discussed in this Network World piece. The story discusses approaches to finding problems in a VoIP network. An important task is assessing whether the problem is at the IP PBX or in the service provider's network. This is a huge issue: In addition to enabling engineers to confront the challenge as quickly as possible, knowing where a problem is has significant impact on whether the service level agreement (SLA) is being fulfilled.
The rise of VoIP over the past half-decade-the success of the marketing folks, in other words-has the engineering and IT staffs scrambling. Vendors are on the case, of course. For instance, today Empirix introduced OneSight, which it says is a voice quality assurance product. The company says the product is designed to ensure that voice quality is maintained in a unified communications platform. Last week, GL Communications announced an enhancement of its SS7 Network Monitoring System. The platform, the company says, uses hardware probes, intelligent software and a database engine to monitor networks.
IP technology puts a lot of stress on the underlying network. Service providers, enterprises, vendors and others must understand that the applications, no matter how cool they seem, are only as good as the underlying network on which they ride.