Tactical Advice

Planning for Converged Infrastructure

Heed these pointers to ease the flow of Voice over IP and multimedia traffic.
Planning for Converged Infrastructure

Multimedia and Voice over IP traffic have a tendency to complicate network plumbing — and a converged infrastructure can exacerbate the problem. The most practical approach to successful migration, implementation and lifecycle management requires astute planning and understanding of the hybrid nature of isochronous data.

While websites and line-of-business applications can tolerate occasional latency and network congestion, phone calls, training videos and voicemail can’t hiccup without lighting up the help desk like fireworks.

For these reasons, planning is paramount. What’s more, network managers should occasionally test infrastructure for continued resiliency. Try these tips for ensuring that VoIP and multimedia traffic flow smoothly.

1. Focus on the fabric.

Isochronous media — the kind of communications that have problems with any amount of latency — need to have clear and uncongested routing, and can suffer from peak loads. VoIP, audio/video and especially video asset warehousing need clear paths with a lot of space and defined routes.

Inside the usual truckload of racks delivered with new converged infrastructure components, bandwidth can be astoundingly vast. But maintaining clear paths to interconnections is mandatory; otherwise, latency and congested paths can wreak havoc. Make sure the internal fabric of the network flows matches the interconnect so that media can be distributed or connected without objectionable latency. Administrators controlling virtual machine movements and other bits must take into account the protocols and their need for throttling to avoid injecting congestion.

2. Establish a clear path.

Where VoIP has Public Switched Telephone Network gateways, converged infrastructure circuits must connect via clear paths with bandwidth allocated for the maximum number of channels served. PSTN gateways with converged networks often use bandwidth throttling or directed ports for service use, meaning those ports must be protected in some way from congestion and have redundant paths for high availability and emergency communications.

Interactive Voice Response servers are generally deployed following the same advice, as they're often critical, including PBX functionality, intersite voice circuit trunking systems, voicemail and other systems with rock-solid bandwidth needs.

3. Virtualize IP addresses.

Video/media asset distribution networks can be as touchy as voice because streams demand a larger share of networking wires. There may be two different streams to consider in noninteractive media networks: the storage fetch stream and the presentation circuit.

The storage farm may be sensitive to virtual machine movement and will need unfettered access through logical virtual LANs and storage area network protocols such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet and iSCSI. Virtualizing IP addresses becomes important, and IT managers will need hypervisors that support VM moves and that can virtualize IP addressing and associated protocols on the fly.

4. Forge an audit trail.

The dynamic nature of converged infrastructure lends itself to rapid movement of resources and assets. However, every component still needs authentication, and assets must be tracked with reliability.

Keep communications paths to authentication services clear and be sure to strongly document services, remote procedure calls and firewall ports. Organizations will call on documentation and audit logs to reconstruct services in the event of an outage.

5. Perform clean changeovers.

Design converged fabrics to withstand service relocations and simulate cutovers to ensure a clean implementation. Rush jobs can cause long-invested products to go to pieces instantly, and outages may continue while fixes and forensics drive up costs.

Test the product makers’ claims regarding resiliency, high availability and customer references. What’s more, successful deployments are the result of converged teams as well as production and data assets. Ensure the IT team has proper training and practices project management. Watchful eyes and ears can prevent disasters in VoIP/virtual PBX and media distribution control, and ultimately ensure customer satisfaction.

These are but a few of many concerns that are specific to each organization's converged infrastructure planning steps. Converging applications and managing a highly virtualized environment shifts assets and resources, and requires astute and experienced IT support to achieve desired goals.

Sign up for our e-newsletter

About the Author

Tom Henderson

Tom Henderson

Tom Henderson is principal researcher for ExtremeLabs and researches and tests enterprise-level hardware and virtual/cloud environments.

Security

Heartbleed: What Should Your... |
One of the biggest security vulnerabilities has almost every user and every industry...
Why Businesses Need a Next-G... |
Devices investigate patterns that could indicate malicious activity.
Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Businesses Must Step Careful... |
Slow and steady wins the race as businesses migrate IT operations to service providers,...
Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Mobility: A Foundational Pie... |
Other technologies rely on mobile computing, which has the power to change lives, Lextech...
Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.

Hardware & Software

Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....
New Challenges in Software M... |
IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.