As technology continually advances, so must business communications in order to remain competitive and promote growth. As a result, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly planning to, or have already implemented IP-based, converged network infrastructures in order to empower business innovation, increase effi ciency and reduce costs. This creates opportunities for resellers to provide the necessary expertise to ensure that SMBs choose and deploy the best solution for their business needs.According to IDC, mobile workers will number 1.2 billion globally by the end of 2010, partly due to the growth in Voice over IP (VoIP) technology. This is refl ected in New Zealand, where we continue to see the trend increasing for mobile and remote working. Encompassing converged systems, devices and applications, unifi ed communications (UC) provide seamless communication regardless of location.How does it work?In a VoIP implementation both voice and data communications run over a single converged network. The applications that support the unifi ed communications services allow all communications to be delivered to any capable device. VoIP is a fundamental and enabling component of the unifi ed communications suite. Because UC brings everything together onto one platform, it has the potential to enhance communication within working teams, increase customer satisfaction, promote business growth and, if implemented correctly, build a competitive and cost advantage.Reap the benefitsDespite its obvious benefits, it is important to note that the success of a UC deployment largely relies on the underlying network infrastructure. Hardware and software applications require secure, reliable, high performance network infrastructures that support features such as traffi c prioritisation/ differentiation, automatic discovery of end devices and Power over Ethernet (PoE) for simple end-user device connectivity.Today’s business cannot run a highly effi cient communication application on an ill-equipped or poorly implemented network. Resellers interested in deploying UC solutions for their SMB customers should look to standards-based networking solutions and consider these three key factors:1 - Identify the current network’s ability to support IP-based solutions To ensure a successful implementation, determine if existing legacy infrastructures can provide the fl exibility and capabilities needed to facilitate UC. Evaluate the current environment by simply checking off the key features needed to support IP capabilities. These include phone vailability, robust bandwidth, Power over Ethernet (PoE), Quality of Service (QoS) and security for device authentication and prioritisation.2 - Leverage, don’t reinvent Standards-based networking provides a streamlined solution that enables secure deployment of both existing and emerging technologies. This open approach to networking gives businesses the choice and fl exibility with LLDPMED (Link Layer Discovery Protocol - Media Endpoint Discovery). Through this, businesses can automatically confi gure network devices, deploy network policies, enable power management capabilities, and ensure troubleshooting with a simplifi ed network infrastructure.3 - One size does not fi t all Pick the solution that best fi ts the business rather than trying to take advantage of the technology. Often the most advanced technical solution can be restrictive, preventing the fl exibility needed for future growth. Businesses need robust, always-on networking to ensure seamless connectivity and promote growth.Finding the best-fit solution to address these factors can be a challenge. The bottom line is helping businesses to select a reliable solution that enables secure highperformance networks that support cost-effective voice, video, and data applications, with the quality of service and mobility required for effective unifi ed communications and collaboration.