This paper attempts to cover the basics of Unified Communications and how it works. To start with, let’sunderstand how unified communications serversfit into the traditional communications networks of telephone, voice mail, fax, and email.
Introduction Unified Communication is the transformation of traditional communication methods like messaging, telephone, voice mail and fax with new electronic communication methods such as email, and instant messaging. In simple words, unified communication is a term that refers to the integration of a variety of typically communication systems, both fixed and mobile, and the use of these methods to enhance collaboration.
Communication media that can be integrated into a unified communication system includesemail, voicemail, fax, instant messaging, white boarding, audio conferencing, video conferencing and web conferencing.
A Unified Communication System allows access to messaging applications through a variety of devices like PCs, video phones, wireless handheld devices or telephones, from both internet and intranet. It will allow you to respond quickly to any type of incoming communication – whether you are onsite or remote. Emails and voice mails will be available anytime and anywhere on different devices irrespective of your location.
Any device can receive notifications sent to user. Communications happen between users facilitated by location recipient of the message. There are basically two protocols developed to support this communication, namely Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Session Description Protocol (SDP).These protocols are designed to work on IP network and support TCP, UDP, DNS and other internet protocol.
Call Manager Call Manager is the brain of this complete network. Without a call manager, no other device can perform their function properly. All the client-end devices will be registered in the call manager first. This helps the call manager to know the exact number of devices in the network along with their positons.
Voice Gateway Voice gateway is another major component in unified communication. Its major function is to connect the private network or the intranet to the outside world. All the calls and messages, either from outside the network or for the outside world, go through this device.
Analog Gateway Even after having many new technologies, we fall back on older technologies like Analog phones. But as unified communication works on IP network, so there is a requirement to convert these analog phone signals. Analog gateway is used to convert these signals and all the analog phones connect to this device.
Client Devices This is another important component of unified communication system. All the communication happens on these devices. Client devices can be either a phoneor a PC.
Operation The working of Unified Communication System is very simple. As discussed above, it has some major components that are required to perform day-today operations. Together,these components form a network for an organisation.
As shown in the above figure, we understand how the devices connect to form the complete network. The end client devices which consist of analog phones, mobiles, video phones, computers,etc are connected with the call manager. We require analog gateways to convert analog signal that comes from analog phones and all analog phones are connected to the analog gateway. This gateway is then further connected to the call manager. Other client devices like computers, video phones and other wireless devices like mobiles are connected to the call manager. All these devices first get registered at the call manager, so that call manager gets the complete information about the devices and its geographical location. The call manger connects with the voice gateway so that the organisation call or messages can go outside.
Let’s take a scenario where the call manager is down. In that case ideally complete networks must go down, but that is not the case. Basic calling functionality still exists. In case, someone from the organisation wants to make a call, the voice gateway performs the function by acting as a bridge, allowing the user to connect with the destination. In the meantime, the call manager starts functioning normally. This helps in keeping the SLA too.
Benefits of Unified Communication System
- One single, flexible infrastructure
- Reduced cost
- Multi-device rings
- Simplified billing