Come Clear on Reliability



A certain Gurgaon-based MNC once deployed an IP (Internet
protocol) network with a solution from a leading IP vendor. Nothing unusual
about that. However, the company was not able to use the network for six months.

The reason? An unknown bug in the network that the vendor
could not diagnose and rectify. Such cases strengthen the argument of the
circuit-switched brigade that IP solutions still have a long way to go to reach
the level of reliability that circuit switches have been offering for more than
100 years now.

IP switches efficiently use system resources and integrate voice and data over a single network. But reliability remains a key challenge

To be fair, we should not be comparing the two on the degree
of reliability. Circuit switches have behind them, more than a century of
existence while IP-based networks are still in their infancy. However, the more
important issue here is the oft-arrogant refusal of IP solution vendors to admit
that IP networks have their limitations.

When questioned about reliability issues, they usually prefer
to play with words. Recently, when a leading vendor was asked about reliability
of IP networks, he blamed India’s restrictive IP telephony regulations and a
myriad other factors. Some talk of the successful deployments that they have
made. And most vendors, instead of clarifying issues, end up trashing circuit
switches.

Technologies need time to mature. And IP is no exception. And
nobody doubts IP’s capacity to transform and revolutionize the way businesses
communicate within and outside their organizations. It is IP that is behind the
numerous multi-service converged network deployments. IP is about one network
and hundreds of applications. There is no doubt about the fact that QoS issues
have long dominated the IP world. However, QoS capabilities are being added to
IP with IPv6 and other alternative next-generation Internet protocol.

Many of the quality and reliability problems of VoIP are
expected to be addressed by overall network improvement innovations like
DiffServ, IntServ, and MPLS. Several VoIP vendors are already offering
proprietary products that enhance call quality.

Besides, there are others who offer standalone products for
QoS improvement. Irrespective of whether these doubts are real, they heavily
influence the way IP is viewed. Still other enterprises consider IP to be too
mature a technology to be relied on for their critical operations.

IP solution vendors would be doing a great service to
themselves and their prospective customers if they work towards removing these
doubts.

To be fair to some of the vendors pushing IP switches, they
do admit that reliability is still a challenge. What is needed, however, is a
sustained campaign to tell the truth. If vendors have problems, they must share
them with their customers. And sharing these facts would do not harm them as
things are considerably in favour of IP networks. IP networks have proven cost
saving capabilities and are far more efficient then their circuit switch
counterparts. IP encourages and supports successful resource sharing too.

Ravi Shekhar Pandey/V&D

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