Current industry best practices for network design for enterprise and small business clients begin with a solid understanding of the businesses’ current and future needs. Scalability must be built in from the start; otherwise the network will limit the company’s future growth. This means using a distributed rather than centralized architecture for most installations.
Today’s networks are combined voice-video- and data networks, not just data networks like yesteryear. This means QoS (quality of service) must be built in from the start to prioritize voice and video traffic where packet loss can create loss of business communications. Service providers chosen should offer QoS as part of an SLA (service level agreement) and internal Ethernet switches should also offer at least a ToS bit QOS scheme. Switch ports must be configured to auto-negotiate speed/duplex levels, power levels, enable portfast, and to enable queueing on uplink ports to ensure that the Voice VLAN gets priority across the entire LAN.
Copper rather than fiber cabling is preferred for VoIP networks within a business or enterprise as fiber networks require media convertors which are viewed as another potential point of failure. All wiring should meet requirements for 100MB Fast Ethernet, and should be certified as free of faulty shielding, improper termination, or other defects. At least cat 5 wiring and preferably cat5e or higher wiring should be used.
PoE or Power-over-Ethernet switches are also preferred as they can be used in conjunction with a back up power source so that business communications and data sharing are continuous in the event of a power outage. When PoE switches are used with IP phones and a back up power source, the phones will also still work in the event of a power failure.
A gateway that connects to the PSTN (public switched telephone network) is also needed to handle 911 calls or external calls in the event of WAN failure. This functionality is included in many IPPBXs or routers available today.
Best practices design is a constantly changing concept also, based on the latest and greatest technology and findings. It pays to hire an experienced data installation firm that keeps pace with today’s best practices and networking know-how.
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