The Benefits of Phone System Virtualization

The Benefits of Phone System Virtualization

At the VMUG (VMware User Group) Usercon held on Nov. 2 in Orlando, Verteks President Don Gulling delivered a presentation on the use of VMware infrastructure to enhance resilience and redundancy for Voice over IP (VoIP) and unified communications (UC). By applying best practices, organizations can achieve “seven 9s” availability using ShoreTel Connect and VMware for fully virtualized voice, video, mobility, collaboration, unified messaging and contact center systems.

VoIP and UC are mature, widely deployed technologies, and the virtualization market was classified as mature by Gartner earlier this year. Some organizations have virtualized 90 percent of their servers, and most have virtualized at least 75 percent. By also virtualizing their VoIP, UC and contact center systems, organizations can achieve a number of business benefits.

Initially, UC couldn’t be virtualized due to the latency issues caused when multiple applications shared the resources of a single server. However, as technology has improved, the virtualization of UC has become a common practice. By separating call processing, which occurs in a virtual machine (VM), from voice streaming, which is transmitted directly between two endpoints, phone systems can be virtualized without compromising call quality.

The virtualization of UC allows for more effective business continuity strategies compared to running UC on separate servers and managing those resources. Organizations can also reduce energy, maintenance and support costs as a result of having less server hardware and software. And when voice is just another application within the virtualized environment, security becomes simpler, and users can communicate and collaborate from any device and location.

The ShoreTel Connect platform on its own is highly reliable. It uses a unique, distributed architecture of voice switches that is resilient to outages and ensures high application availability. Virtualization complements the ShoreTel architecture by maximizing availability and simplifying UC management.

Virtualization makes it possible for organizations to leverage the business continuity features offered by virtualization vendors such as VMware. For example, if a primary server fails, VMware’s high availability features can automatically transfer processing to another VM. Administrators can also migrate actively running VMs to a different physical server when maintenance is required without disrupting voice calls. System upgrades are simpler and less risky when ShoreTel UC is deployed on VMs because snapshots allow administrators to revert to a previous configuration in case of problem.

There are a number of ways to leverage virtualization in your UC environment:

  • Fully virtualized communications infrastructure, including call control, applications and management
  • Virtualized and geographically redundant call control, applications, management and call center applications
  • Hybrid communications infrastructure with appliance-based call control and virtualized management and applications
  • Virtualized UC platform software with a physical appliance for backup
  • Mixed system with a virtualized platform at headquarters and voice appliances at remote sites
  • Virtualized and redundant call center applications, including voice, chat and multimedia
  • Virtualized voice and multimedia IVR applications

The approach you choose for virtualizing your ShoreTel Connect UC platform will depend upon your organization’s business processes and objectives. Contact Verteks to discuss how to use virtualization to support your communications and collaboration environment.

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