VoIP monitoring tools make financial sense

* Branch VoIP monitoring

Of the dozen or so triggers that cause companies to implement VoIP, branch-office communications is high on the list. IT leaders recognize the number of remote workers and the number of branch locations continues to rise — and having dozens of un-interoperable PBXs at these sites doesn’t do anything to unite the company.

Without a cohesive phone system, employees work on islands with rudimentary phones that don’t distinguish between a call made within the company vs. outside. They cannot do abbreviated dialing, transfer calls, intercom, or view more advanced features, such as presence data or directories.

Recognizing this does affect employee productivity, many IT decision-makers decide VoIP is the right way to streamline their communications among branch-office employees talking to one another or to those at headquarters.

But what they often overlook is how they plan to monitor and manage the communications capabilities at the branch. On average, only 18% of branch locations have IT personnel working there, leaving 82% of branch offices without on-site IT expertise.

The majority of companies implements VoIP and counts on the tools that come with their PBXs — perhaps combined with some existing network management and manager of manager tools — to do the job.

What we have found, however, is companies that buy specialty IP telephony management tools — such as those from Infovista, Integrated Research (better know by its product name, Prognosis), Fluke Networks, NetIQ, NetQOS, and several others — spend less per employee to operate their VoIP system than those who rely on PBX or no tools at all.

In Nemertes’ Building the Successful Virtual Workplace benchmark, we asked 120 IT executives several VoIP cost questions to arrive at an operational cost-per-unit (defined as an end station connected to the IP telephony switches) figure.

* With no IP telephony management tools, companies spent $1,262 per unit per year to operate the system.

* Those using tools from the IP PBX vendor spent $405 per unit per year to operate the system.

* Those who use specialty IP telephony management tools spent only $113 per unit per year in operational costs.

The numbers speak for themselves. If you’re considering or deploying VoIP, you’ll save on operational costs by using monitoring/management tools from the PBX vendor, and even more by using specialty IP telephony management tools. Keep this in mind when developing your budget and your return-on-investment analysis.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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