Investing in Unified Communications? Consider this before you do.

nec_reliability_scalability-resized-600When considering an investment in Unified Communications (UC) or enterprise communications in general, the first questions that come to mind are:  is it reliable?  Is It secure?  Does it offer business process enabling features through open standards?  After all, in today’s competitive environment, communications are a business critical component of your organization’s success.  Before making a decision about which system you’ll invest in, what steps do you take in evaluating its attributes?

Here’s a look at how some of the experts do it:

To start, systems are put through a series of rigorous proprietary tests to evaluate security and resiliency.  In resiliency testing, vulnerable scenarios are created by subjecting communications platforms to various analyses and scans as well as a complex set of exploits designed to determine product capabilities or applications.

Now that the surface has been scratched, let’s look at some of the test in more detail.


With so many of today’s businesses spread over multiple locations, a favorable system is one with architecture that is highly scalable, reliable and flexible. So what does that mean?  Communications servers should be able to easily handle up to 16 calls per second with no failures.  In order to do so, they require the ability to detect when a destination party is unavailable across the network and be configured to follow a failover path through the PSTN.  The path is designed to automatically switch calls to another server without a noticeable interruption in service.

Load Testing

Load testing is designed to show system resiliency over a protracted period of time by achieving a high number of completed calls when traffic is generated across a system.  For example, let’s examine a configuration of a system that’s set up with 6,000 SIP end points with 60 concurrent calls, while generating 100,000 Busy Hour Call Attempts (BHCA) over several days.  In this scenario, you could expect a system to average close to 30 call completions per second for an average over 100,000 calls per hour and totaling over 2.4M calls per day.  Simple, right?  Until testing adds registered users at a rate of about 1 user per second.  This is how they reallydetermine if the system offers true high availability.


Standards Compatibility

There are also tests to evaluate standards based compatibility with protocols like SOAP and SIP.  Standards testing offers a methodical approach and review of a system’s capabilities.


In the next section, we’ll look at security considerations.

Enterprise Communications in Virtualized Environments

phones_cloudWith all the talk of cloud computing and software as a service of late, many IT organizations are wondering how communications can be deployed realistically in these models.  This discussion inevitably leads to the topic of virtualization.

Among the highest-impact issues in IT today, virtualization allows multiple applications to run on virtual machines within one or more physical host servers. A hypervisor – from vendors such as VMware, Microsoft or others – allocates server resources for all virtual machines running on it. Virtualization has long been used in data centers to consolidate the number of physical servers, better utilize existing hardware, and improve application availability.


Centralizing applications in data centers and leveraging virtualization technology to minimize associated costs and complexities has for several years been a trend among IT departments of both enterprises and mid-sized organizations. Adding communications to virtualized environments brings complexity and special requirements that not every enterprise communications provider can deliver today.

NEC has verified that UNIVERGE Sphericall, the pure software-based communications platform, runs in both VMware® ESXi and Microsoft® Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 virtualized environments to deliver voice and unified communications services in various cloud and hosted scenarios.

Some potential use cases for software-based communications in virtualization include:

  • Customers with virtualization initiatives to reduce data center costs and server “sprawl”
  • Disaster recovery scenarios running virtualized instances in carrier hosted environment, or private cloud infrastructure.
  • Implementing additional media service resources such as voicemail, auto attendant, music-on-hold and/or call recording using Sphericall virtualization
  • Hosted provider scaling a single, large server with multiple instances of Sphericall where each instance is tied to a particular customer site
  • Small or remote offices desiring to hosted multiple applications on a single machine