The Road to SIP

My job is to work with enterprises around the country as they make their journey to SIP.  Some are doing little more than dipping their toes in the water, while others have plans to change nearly every aspect of their communications system.   The following six steps are my thoughts on how an enterprise should plan for and implement a SIP roll-out.

Gather Business Requirements

Determine what you need as an enterprise as well as what your different business units require.  The SIP solution that meets the needs of your knowledge workers may be inadequate for your contact center.  Understand why you are going to SIP in order to make the right decisions when you deploy SIP.  Calculate your expected ROI.

Assess Readiness for Deployment

Is your network ready for time and loss sensitive data such as voice and video?  Are your routers and switches QoS aware?  Do you have power over Ethernet (POE) to the desktop?  Can your existing systems be upgraded to support SIP or will SIP gateways be required.  What are your current security policies for your communications system?  Are you looking to add remote SIP users?  If so, do you require “complex” passwords on your telephones or do most users still use “1234” or their extension as a login password?  Do you have contracts with your current carrier that will need to be renegotiated?

Document your current traffic patterns to properly size your SIP solution.

Evaluate Carrier Offerings

Create a list of what you need from your trunks and ensure that your chosen provider meets your requirements.  Consider multiple providers to eliminate single points of failure.

For a deeper dive, please consult my article on Choosing A SIP Provider.

Design and Pilot Your Solution

Do not attempt to roll out SIP overnight.  Design a pilot or pilots that will provide you with useful information and good feedback.  Ensure that the needs identified during the business requirements phase are reflected in your pilot.  Keep your pilot to a reasonable size (10 to 50 users).  Test all call flow scenarios.  Test Fax extensively (local, long distance, international).  Test failover and recovery.  Consider a session management configuration over a nodal approach.

Roll-Out the Service

Start small.  Roll out voice services in manageable blocks of DID’s (perhaps 50 at a time).   Overprovision network bandwidth.  When you are happy with one block of users, roll out the next.  Monitor usage, LAN usage, WAN usage, and quality.

Validate Deployment and Decommission Old Services

Cancel old TDM contracts.  Decommission unused gateways and cards.  Cancel maintenance contracts on unneeded equipment.  Validate that your requirements for functionality and ROI have been met.  Trim back your bandwidth to where it satisfies your requirements.  Evaluate carrier charges.

In Conclusion

Be honest?  Does this worry, concern, or scare you?  Do you feel overwhelmed with what you need to do and plan on sticking with TDM as the easy alternative?  I hope that’s not the case and if you are hesitant, I ask you to consider a few things.

You are not the first person to move to SIP.  The original adopters have paid the price of instability and lack of features, but that was a long time ago.  SIP has matured into THE protocol for IP communications.

You don’t have to do everything all at once.  Start with the low hanging fruit.  Replace your TDM trunks with SIP trunks and save real dollars by eliminating costly T1’s, gateways, line cards, and service contracts.  Next, empower your workforce with multimedia communications.  Extend your reach and productivity with remote SIP users.  Consolidate application functionality into a cloud model.  Pick one thing, do it, validate it, and then move to the next.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your achievement.  You’ve positioned your enterprise for the future.  Be happy.

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