Convergence – Regaining the Faith

Peter Titmus, Managing Director of specialist networking support company Networks First, asks is the take-up of voice and data convergence little more than an example of fashion winning out over function?

“Too many organisations have invested in expensive new networks simply to run IPT, fearing that the inherent instability of the converged network offers too much risk to support the critical data infrastructure. As a result they have invested heavily in a solution that does nothing more than replicate the traditional telephony technology and are gaining none of the added value a truly converged network can deliver.

But is the perceived instability of converged technologies a reality or urban myth? Undoubtedly converged networks have problems – and certainly appear extraordinarily unstable when compared to the near bomb-proof telephony set-ups of the past.

Delve deeper into the causes of failure, however, and it becomes rapidly apparent that the technology itself is not the problem. Indeed only 20% of faults are related to device failure. The rest are actually caused by the massive disconnect between data and telephony support operations – both internally and throughout the vendor/reseller supply chain. Inappropriately designed and deployed networks combined with disjointed support operations – internally and externally – contribute to 80% of problems.

While most vendors and resellers have created a strong converged sales force, few if any have yet attained a truly converged operational support team. Within organisations deploying converged networks the problem is just as great; too often even the technology decision making has been taken only by one group – primarily telephony. Is it any wonder that those responsible for the data infrastructure are loath to buy in to the converged concept?

For those organisations that have opted to deploy voice and data over the same network, just where does the responsibility lie for problems – from device failure to a drop in voice quality? Without proactively combining expertise to achieve operational convergence, too many organisations are experiencing performance problems and support delays that are leading to the growing perception that converged networks offer little but IPT and future proofing.

Yet those organisations that have created a single team to manage the converged voice and data infrastructure have transformed network reliability and significantly increased up-time. It is time for the reseller channel to enhance that reliability by delivering truly converged support.

When it comes to convergence, the focus to date has been all about the technology. As a result, while the market has some fashion driven momentum, quantifiable business benefits have been thin on the ground. It is only by taking an operationally converged approach to support – both internally and externally – that the new infrastructures will attain the stability and reliability required to give organisations the confidence to truly exploit convergence.”