Integration, convergence, consolidation - common IT parlance to describe being able to do more with less. When it comes to unified communications, however, it's all too easy to forget that, at the bottom of the integration stack, there's a finite resource - network bandwidth - which is all too easily used up.

This is especially the case in smaller organisations where networking is often purchased as a commodity item when an office is first occupied, typically, to support file and print sharing, then quietly forgotten about. Try to add voice, video and collaboration onto this kind of network and all kinds of quality and reliability issues will make themselves felt, simply by trying to cram too much data down too small a pipe.

Take a company I was at the other day, which had bought into one of BT's hosted VoIP services. Together with general Web access this was delivered via a single ADSL line which would have been fine, except that the exchange involved is out in the sticks and only offers basic (up to 8Meg) connectivity.

End result? A reasonable enough service most of the time, but when everyone was in and working, lots of quality issues on the phones plus intermittent problems surfing the Web.

Naturally, BT was called in to check everything out (several times) but all was as it should be. Routers were also replaced, new ones tried, cables and ports swapped around, QoS options implemented and so on. Ultimately, however, the only answer was a second broadband line, just for the phones.
And the moral of the tale?

There are times when a quart just can't be squeezed in to a pint pot, no matter how good the technology involved.

This article is written by Alan Stevens and sponsored by Avaya. The opinions reflected in this piece are solely those of Alan Stevens and may not reflect those of Avaya management