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Unified communications fostering network growth

By Max Burkhalter
August 5, 2011
A number of industry conditions are forcing businesses to upgrade their network infrastructure. However, unified communications stands out as a solution that has a holistic impact on network infrastructure and requires a large-scale upgrade to keep up with emerging trends. In a recent round table discussion sponsored by Unified Communications Strategies, industry expert Dave Michaels identified a number of key trends emerging in the networking field that are also impacting UC technologies.

Michaels explained that IPv6 is among the pervasive industry trends that are impacting unified communications deployment and network infrastructure in general. According to Michaels, many U.S. companies look at IPv6 migration as a simple process that they can wait to complete since IPv4 address depletion has not yet hit North America. However, Michaels said Asia's efforts to transition to IPv6, which are more urgent, will add more pressure to U.S. businesses. This will likely lead to a few "gotcha" moments, he said, when organizations find themselves struggling with issues they did not anticipate. As a result, Michaels explained that companies need to prioritize IPv6 deployment throughout the network, especially if they plan to make upgrades to support enhanced unified communications options.

Other major industry trends, such as virtualization, are also impacting networking and unified communications systems. Michaels said virtualization has emerged from a somewhat experimental technology that was gaining hold in specific environments and become a pervasive enterprise practice that will be a part of almost every business moving forward. This process will require significant network upgrades to support increased server densities and those infrastructure enhancements should be part of a company's plan if they expect to improve their UC systems, Michaels said.

Virtualization is also leading to convergence, a system that involves moving servers and other infrastructure to a central data center and using the WAN to transport data and applications to branch offices. Michaels said this process greatly complicates unified communications and general networking principles, and upgrades may need to made to support the technological shift to converged infrastructure.

Converging and virtualizing infrastructure can dramatically impact network performance by moving data and application transit to the WAN. A recent TechTarget report said businesses doing this should invest in WAN optimization to maximize network performance without having to deploy more bandwidth.


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