One of today's most profound business revolutions is the use of Internet Protocol (IP) technology to integrate and transport voice, fax, video and data traffic on single, IP-based network. The move away from separate voice (PSTNs) and data networks is transforming how companies interact with customers, employees and suppliers more

If such a Convergence offers scales of economy, this must manifest itself to some degree and eventually, in the Convergence of people and all of its consequences. We are even seeing the Convergence of departmental titles e.g. IT becomes ICT (Information and Communications Technology). Convergence may even mean less people, though it is a mistake to assume this. More

IP Convergence


Definition: IP Convergence implies the carriage of different types of traffic such as voice, video, data, and images over a single network. The integrated network is based on the Internet Protocol (IP).

What is IP Convergence?

Corporate managements have long desired a single network that would allow them to transfer both voice and data. Timely information is now a key asset and corporates realize the importance of investing in networks that facilitate enterprise telecommunications. Enterprise networks that are based on the Internet Protocol network technology are today in the forefront of answering businessesí requirement for a useful and cost-effective network that can serve as the backbone for all enterprise communication needs. Along with meeting the challenges posed by the physical integration of the network, it is also important to ensure that the aggregated flow of traffic meets the quality and functionality requirements as fulfilled by the discrete networks.

IP ConvergenceThe core aspects that dictate the implementation and deployment of an IP convergent network include integrating discrete network elements; staying up-to-date with IP and its associated protocols; and having systems in place to manage voice, data, and video traffic for multimedia applications.

The benefits of IP Convergence

1. Excellent support for multimedia applications. Improved connectivity means that devices can be assigned specific tasks; the number of devices required is less which makes installation, deployment, and learning an easier task.

2. A converged IP network is a single platform on which interoperable devices can be run in innovative ways. Since IP is an open standard, it is vendor independent and this helps in fostering interoperability and improving network efficiency in terms of time and cost. The ambit of IP convergence encompasses networks, devices, and different technologies and systems that can be operated on a unified infrastructure.

3. A converged IP network is easier to manage because of the uniform setup in which the system resources operate. Training users is easy.

4. An enterprise can achieve flexibility in terms of moulding its communication patterns to its management practices. This is a dynamic process that can be continually improved with collaboration from network partners. What this results in is the right information to the right person at the right time leading to improved decision making.

5. IP networks have proven to be remarkably scalable and this has been one of the prime reasons that even large enterprises have gone ahead with implementing IP. Applications that run on IP networks are available all over the world; in fact most new business applications include inbuilt IP support.

6. An IP convergent network is capable of making use of the developments in class of service differentiation and QoS-based routing. This leads to better utilization of resources and also allows for capacity redundancy to take care of an increase in the number of users.

7. A uniform environment requires fewer components in the network. Smoother maintenance and management result from this and in turn lead to improved processes. Affordable deployment results from the elimination of multiple networks operating in parallel and manageability improves. In a converged environment, fewer platforms need to be tested and gateways between networks are eliminated.

8. Business applications have different tolerance levels for transit delays, dropped packets, and error rates. IP architecture is capable of handling these so that the QoS reflects the requirements of the different applications.

9. Device integration has the potential to simplify end-to-end security management and at the same time make it more robust. Continuous development is taking place in field of security for IP data communication.

10. A converged IP network offers a business tremendous cost savings in terms of hardware and space utilization. It opens up more markets that can be reached, more products that can be introduced, increases employee productivity and mobility, and enables even smaller companies to compete with larger ones because of faster information relay.

Implementation

convergence phones, computers,  
networks, voice, data, faxThe first and most apparent result of integrating discrete network elements is that with a reduction in the number of nodes in a network, the operating and maintenance costs go down. Connectivity and wiring costs - whether to the userís work station or to the providerís facility - are reduced. A converged IP network means that there are always opportunities available for efficient bandwidth utilisation. Routing PSTN traffic over an IP network is one sure way of improving network capacity utilisation. Facsimiles have for long presented a problem for routing over an IP network but recent advances have made it possible to transfer faxes as IP packets and they present another excellent avenue for maximizing IP network capacity.

The TCP/IP protocol stack is already being used by enterprises for communication. The advent of VoIP has played a big role in pushing companies to evolve toward implementing IP networks. Converging communications technology through IP protocol means that you can link subsystems and networks that include shared Ethernet LANs, dedicated WAN links and ATM networks. IP convergence also implies various legacy technologies resulting in a consistent and uniform experience at the user interface; where a single device is used to access applications like telephony and video. Thus, IP convergence also leads to application or device convergence.

Till now, IP has been up to the challenge of catering to multiple services encompassing different types of media spread over the globe. It has delivered in terms of scalability and user mobility.

Conclusion

IP convergence is being pursued by enterprises at present primarily for the cost-saving opportunities that it offers. Yet, the technology has the potential to change the way businesses operate. Business-oriented improvements can be achieved based on coordinated activity. The issues related to widespread and quick IP convergence have as much to do with technology as with risk perceptions harboured by managements. IP networks are competing with the telephone systems that have been around for more than a century and with nearly 900 million users, it has nearly seven times the user base of the Internet. IP networks are growing at a tremendous pace but wholesale network changes cannot be undertaken without fully considering the implications of regulations on businesses and network providers.