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Sysadmins will suffer from increasingly painful network management headaches as they struggle to cope with voice over IP (VoIP) roll-outs. They will have to deal with time-critical voice traffic clashing with data for limited bandwidth across converged infrastructures.

After years of empty vendor hype, the voice-data convergence market is only now ramping up with real world demand for telecoms network services set to grow four per cent this year, according to IDC. This increase is driven mostly by the business uptake of VoIP, it says.

Piggy in the middle

but more installations means more problems for network managers. They are must play piggy in the middle between a fast-increasing number of bandwidth-hungry applications, says Packeteer, a...network management firm.

"Voice has always operated on a separate network so that it never had to contend for access with other applications," said Roger Hockaday, marketing director for Packeteer, EMEA.

"As we move voice onto enterprise data networks it will start competing for bandwidth just like any other application - this will especially be a problem at the choke point of the LAN/WAN interface."

Strained networks

Networks in many enterprises are already strained, with much bandwidth taken up by non-business critical applications such as music downloads, web surfing and file sharing, according to Packeter

IP convergence may be the final straw, as voice places particularly heavy demands on networks because of its strict real-time quality of service requirements.

"Users accept that applications sometimes run quickly and sometimes run slowly; they can even stomach that emails may arrive immediately but sometimes never at all. However, voice users are not so forgiving, their calls simply must get through," Hockaday says. ®

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