Three-quarters of European IT executives are worried about the quality and reliability of voice over IP, according to research from Compuware. A survey of 300 large enterprises across Europe found that while companies are interested in the cost savings of VoIP, they have concerns about the reliability of the technology.

But one reason for the uncertainty might be ignorance. Nearly three-quarters of IT departments - 72 per cent - are taking a'sledgehammer’ approach to network monitoring and only considering overall network utilisation. Nearly 40 per cent of companies do not profile the performance of applications such as voice, prior to implementation.

This means that they often cannot anticipate the impact that it will have on the network and its performance. Companies also fail to implement strategies correctly for monitoring the quality of VoIP calls once such a system is in place with only 8 per cent of organisations managing and monitoring calls at an individual level. Instead 37 per cent of IT managers rely on retrospective user feedback and as such can only resolve problems after they have occurred.

Michael Allen, global director of performance solutions at Compuware, says: "People might be surprised that quality and reliability is still such a big concern for so many, when VoIP is high on the agenda for most companies. However, when you take a closer look, this is not entirely unexpected, as many companies are not taking the appropriate steps prior to VoIP implementation.

"It is like driving a new car before the manufacturer has checked that all the components are fitted together properly and the safety checks are completed. Businesses must profile performance prior to deployment otherwise they have no way of knowing whether there will be negative side effects due to factors such as network design or application conflicts. With voice being such a high profile, application organisations cannot afford to take this risk."

The response from 46 per cent of IT directors is the age-old remedy of throwing more bandwith at the problem. "With real time applications such as VoIP coming onto the network, businesses need to change the way they are monitoring and managing network and application performance,” said Allen.

The research, by Vanson Bourne on behalf.. of Compuware, found that half of the large companies surveyed currently have a class of service (CoS) enabled wide area network (Wan) - which includes MPLS, IP-VPN or meshed technology. The other half has a traditional (frame relay or leased line) Wan.