Polycom recently presented a series of four design clinics, which you can now watch on-demand to benefit from best practice approaches to:
- Designing your collaboration environment
- Ensuring your data network is ready for voice and video
- Implementing winning workflow strategies
- Measuring and driving performance and utilization
In the second webinar, John Bartlett, Senior Business Development Director, takes a technical deep dive into the latest thinking around building IP networks to support real-time voice and video traffic, and recommends a range of best practices to proactively prepare and maintain your network to deliver the best user experience.
Why is your IP network so critical?
Most data traffic involves moving blocks of information – files, keystrokes etc. But video and audio are recreating a real-time event which is encoded dynamically, pushed in real time across the network, and then used to recreate the visual and/or audio. If some of that information is missing or arrives too late, this impacts call quality, which is why your network must be tuned to optimally carry this traffic. Achieving this means:
- Designing for optimum voice/video support (bandwidth and Quality of Service (QoS))
- Monitoring the network to ensure ongoing support for voice/video requirements
Designing for video bandwidth
Because video is bandwidth-intensive, designing for video bandwidth is critical in preparing your network to handle it. You first need to determine the demand your video and/or voice deployment is going to create. Differing screen resolutions and frame rates need dramatically different bandwidths, so talk to the people who’ll be using the solution to understand the resolution(s) they need, the kinds of endpoints they’ll be using, and whether they’ll be sharing static or dynamic content within their video calls.
Based on these requirements, you and your IT colleagues can assess the impact for each key link of the network topology. For example:
- Where is the bridge, and how many devices will need to connect to it concurrently?
- Do you have multiple WAN service providers, and how do they each treat video?
- Do you have conferencing rooms that will be regularly scheduling calls throughout the day, or 1000s of desktop users on Microsoft Lync who will use video as an ad hoc resource?
The answers will depend on the way your business runs, how active your users are in terms of video, and how this is expected to evolve over time.
On most networks, data traffic is very ‘bursty’. The peak to average ratio can be 10:1 or more, so while the average utilization of a data stream may be quite low, its peak utilization is much higher, and can often interfere with the bandwidth required by real-time audio or video. The momentary interference of data bursts causes quality degradation in audio and video reproduction which is why, where QoS is available, you need it to give priority to real-time streams and hold down the peaks in the data traffic.
Designing QoS has five components – classification, trust boundaries, and WAN, LAN and WiFi QoS – that need to be taken into account. And even in environments (e.g. the internet) that don’t support QoS, you can take steps to address this, such as ensuring sufficient bandwidth on your internet connection to support video calls, or having separate connections for voice/video and data traffic.
Monitoring network quality
To help you make informed decisions, and identify the exact location of any problems, path-based network monitoring is essential. Rather than just looking at the performance of individual network components, Polycom’s Network Monitoring Tool looks at the entire path (e.g. between two video endpoints inside and outside the enterprise network) to analyze behavior. It therefore uses the same end-to-end path as the real-time video stream – crucial in understanding whether your network is providing the quality needed to support the application and whether your network partners are providing the appropriate levels of service.
To learn the details of John’s best practices for network readiness, watch the webinar now.
And download the whitepaper, "Preparing Your IP Network for High Definition Video Conferencing" HERE.