The strategic and financial justification for IP communications

February 2004 News

Cisco Systems has produced an interesting White Paper entitled 'The strategic and financial justification for IP communications' ... for readers' benefit, this White Paper can be downloaded from the Technews website at http://jhb.technews.co.za/cnvrg_wp.pdf. The intent of this white paper is to provide senior managers with the necessary strategic and financial justifications to make effective decisions regarding investments in IP communications.

With IIPSEC 2004 having just taken place from 27-29 January 2004 in the UK, it is perhaps appropriate for Hi-Tech Security Solutions to cover some of the issues and trends which will no doubt be affecting security technology purchasing decisions for some time to come.

"IP communications - also known as 'convergence' - refers to the integration of data, voice, and video solutions onto a single, Internet protocol (IP)-based network. Often perceived as a technology of the future, the products and solutions that companies need in order to deploy IP communications exist today. In fact, a recent Phillips InfoTech study found that 44% of enterprises are already in the process of migrating to IP telephony and that 12% of all voice lines shipped this year will be IP station lines. IP communications is now a viable technology, which is causing many IT managers to rethink their current network strategies. As a result, PBX sales have declined by 25% in the last two years and 62% of voice and data decision makers have reported postponing their investments in PBX technology in anticipation of migrating to IP communications solutions."

Today's economic climate has made it more crucial than ever for decision makers to consider what type of return their organisations can expect from prospective investments. Enterprises that are investing in IP communications have two primary returns in mind - reducing operational costs and improving their organisation's communications capabilities. More than half the respondents in a recent survey of enterprise decision makers agreed that the decision to deploy IP-based infrastructure and solutions is no longer a question of 'if' but of 'when'.

"IP communications is a viable technology that can be implemented today. By converging existing voice and data networks onto a single IP-based network, an enterprise can lower its total cost of network ownership by reducing expenditures associated with equipment and maintenance, network administration, and network carrier charges. A converged network also enhances an organisation's communications capabilities by facilitating employee mobility and providing a solid foundation for the deployment of advanced, feature-rich services and solutions. IP telephony, unified messaging, and multichannel contact centre applications are just a few examples of such solutions. While some organisations have expressed concern about migrating their existing network infrastructure to a converged model, industry studies show that 80-85% of the enterprises that have already implemented IP communications indicated that the quality, resiliency, and scalability this technology delivers either met or exceeded their expectations."

IP communications - the time is now

A recent study conducted by Phillips InfoTech found that 60% of enterprise decision makers agreed or strongly agreed that: "The decision to implement IP telephony is no longer a question of 'if we should do it', but it is now a question of 'when we should do it'."

"The principal drivers behind converging voice and data networks are reduction in total cost of network ownership and enhanced business communications. Many of the new business applications that are now deployed on converged networks provide immediate ways to increase personal and workgroup productivity while enhancing customer care and responsiveness. A recent survey by Phillips InfoTech supports this assertion. Of the enterprises surveyed that have already deployed IP telephony, Phillips InfoTech found that three times as many enterprises were satisfied with their deployments, versus those that were not."

With IP or network-based cameras starting to proliferate in the security environment, I think that industry players need to understand the thinking behind network infrastructure purchases at end-user level, need to understand the drivers behind ROI and the business value of IT, and need to start thinking how they can position IP based security solutions effectively. IP should not be a solution looking for a problem to solve. And on the corporate network it might just be that, if due consideration is not given to the real reasons underpinning 'convergence'.

On that note, enjoy this month's BUMPER issue of Hi-Tech Security Solutions. It includes this year's Securex 2004 Showcase. Do yourself a favour. Get to Securex 2004, and find out about how IP is going to affect your world.

Till next month,

Darren Smith





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