John Dix, Editor-in-Chief of Network World, issued a public invitation to 3Com and five other IP PBX manufacturers (Nortel, Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, Lucent) to respond to an IP PBX Request for Proposal around the following requirements. Results are promoted at the VON conference on Wednesday, October 20, 2004. No doubt a lively discussion about value and capabilities will be shared. I'm presenting the 3Com solution.   

My presentation.

The company has a New York headquarters, 400 stations and five T1 trunks, a branch office in Hoboken NJ with 10 stations, five analog lines and T1 access, and a branch office in Bakersfield CA with 10 stations, five analog lines and DSL service.

According to John, the company wants to know what the system will look like and how much it will cost. In addition it is primarily interested in productivity gains it can expect, and how the system will support emerging technologies such as WiFi phones and the ability to detect presence.

Obviously, there are more details that would be necessary to be gathered and considered in the actual delivery of a proposal that addresses the company’s need for a highly available, strong enterprise convergence applications solution.

The 3Com Solution
Naturally, there are several questions that need to be answered in order to clearly define the optimal fit of various 3Com IP telephony solutions.

The most important of these questions center around the company’s expectations for system availability. Some highly available solutions can be deployed with options for higher availability, or integrated into the basic proposal.

In this case we assumed that the company valued high availability in the central location, and was willing to accept centralized call control service offered from redundant 3Com VCX IP Telephony modules for the remote offices, which could receive emergency dial-out to the PSTN in the event the IP network had failed.

Alternatives for high availability in the remote office, that sustains a very high availability solution is to deploy 3Com VCX IP Telephony modules in the remote offices. This inexpensive implementation, when coupled with the 3Com Voice Boundary Routing service, delivers the availability of redundancy in the remote office, with out the cost of deploying redundant servers remotely.

What is the plan for retirement of the PBX? Is it to be scrapped on day 1, or would the company prefer to capture most of the fundamental productivity benefits of the 3Com Convergence Applications Suite immediately, and then migrate dialtone to IP?

This is the cornerstone of the 3Com ‘overlay’ strategy: deploy 3Com VCX digital gateways around the digital PBX and use advanced applications right now for IP messaging  IP conferencing  and IP contact center to exploit the flexibility and the benefits leaving the replacement of the digital infrastructure to a gradual enhancement plan (simply replace the digital handsets with IP phones or give all users the 3Com Convergence Center client application and USB headsets to increase mobility, control and flexibility).

Also, the company’s expectations for growth in each location, or to other locations should be considered. There are several options for deploying high performance IP Telephony services throughout the corporation that needs to reflect the needs and growth expectations of the company. Will there be more sites?

One competitive 3Com network design for a company in Europe with over 500 branch offices includes distributed call control, but no local access to the PSTN. In this case, the customer can concentrate all of their gateways in a small number of locations (for higher availability) in the metropolitan center of the country. Using local number portability, the customer can enable local dial through the national center. Here, given that long distance costs the same as local calling, centralizing PSTN connectivity enables lower cost operations and greater efficiencies on the high density digital gateways.

Call Center Services
Understanding the role and technology choices in the company’s call center (if there is one) and integrating user needs/desires for remote agents is an important component of the overall IP telephony system design. 3Com offers a range of choices for 3Com NBX customers and a powerful SIP-driven solution for 3Com VCX implementations.

Network Convergence

Naturally, most enterprise data networks are in no position to support IP telephony. 3Com Global Professional Services offers an IP Telephony Readiness Service to help customers determine how and what they need to do (if anything) to upgrade their network to enable a high quality, and high satisfaction IP telephony deployment.

3Com capabilities for LAN switching, Power over Ethernet and Quality of Service enablement in the appropriate LAN switching products is well documented and market leading.

Clearly at the network layer, it will be necessary to assign IP phones to the voice virtual LAN for performance segmentation, security and system control. Although it is not necessary to choose a 3Com network, there are advantages – particularly in the automatic recognition of IP phone MAC addresses and placement of these device packet streams into the voice vLAN.

Furthermore, as the company consider deploying security services, such as the 3Com 6200 security switch, and 802.11 wireless services, the basic capabilities for mobility management are practical as users roam through zones of the wireless network, the 3Com wireless switch is appropriate for hand-off management and wireless QoS.

The 3Com Enterprise Management Suite  is a Java application for managing VCX IP Telephony modules, other 3Com applications and network devices. It is easily integrated into other enterprise management environments including Tivoli and HP OpenView.

3Com offers a compelling network-layer choice for customers looking to implement an IP Telephony solution.

Other features supported in our network design include:

  • 3Com routers support Differentiated Services for industry standard mechanism for enabling packet processing priority for traffic originating on voice vLANs.
  • All gateways and IP phones use G.729 compression, which includes silence suppression and the industry’s highest performing standard algorithm. This reduces consumed bandwith by over 50% with no perceptible loss of quality.
  • Wireband phones – users within the enterprise can use the higher quality audio built-in to 3Com IP phones.
  • No more than one 100 Mbps port is required for each user. Since all 3Com IP phones have 2 Ethernet ports (one for PoE network connection and one for PC connectivity) total port count is reduced compared to alternatives.
  • Power Recovery Plan – Laptop users that engage their IP phone pass-through port are able to continue working even during short power disruptions since their laptops have batteries. Of course, if the servers, switches and routers are not on UPS, there is no plan.

Convergence Applications
The 3Com Convergence Applications Suite includes the 3Com VCX IP Telephony Module, 3Com IP Messaging module, 3Com IP Conferencing module (including the Presence module) and the 3Com IP Contact Center module.

The customer will be able to use the 3Com Convergence Center client to deliver desktop control to their Mac, Linux or Windows end users. In this way the following applications are enabled: 

  • data presence
  • telephony presence
  • audio conferencing: scheduled and ad hoc
  • video conferencing: scheduled and ad hoc
  • data conferencing: scheduled and ad hoc
  • find me follow me
  • read me email (text to speech)
  • voice mail
  • voice mail broadcast: scheduled and ad hoc
  • voice mail delivery service

Furthermore, using 3Com 802.11 infrastructure from 3Com and the PulverInnovations SIP WiFi phone or the RIM Blackberry 7270 SIP WiFi personal appliance (announced by RIM just this week), customer can deliver enterprise mobility dial-tone to management or mobile users in any enterprise network location.

The 3Com Convergence Applications Suite are SIP-based, highly interoperable applications for changing the way business speaks.

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