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When New Is Not Cool

There can be a downside to jumping on that Cat 6 or VoIP bandwagon. For one thing, the more mundane, but necessary jobs often get shunted aside.It would be too easy to talk about the need for new tech...


November 1, 2002  


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There can be a downside to jumping on that Cat 6 or VoIP bandwagon. For one thing, the more mundane, but necessary jobs often get shunted aside.

It would be too easy to talk about the need for new technologies at the moment, or even the downturn in the stock market and what effect it is having on all of us.

Instead, I’d like to discuss a subject that I’m intimately familiar with — procrastination. Heck, I’m writing this column with literally hours to spare even though I was given several months to write it.

It’s funny how I try to convince myself that this is not really a problem for I usually produce some of my best work at the 11th hour — at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I’ve had this same discussion with many people over the course of the years and it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone. In fact, many others suffer from the same affliction.

I used to think that being a procrastinator actually helped me at Christmas time, After all, it’s always easier to decide what to buy when selection is limited. The trouble with that theory is that friends and loved ones generally appreciate receiving nice gifts, not tacky items that end up in garage sales the following spring.

IT’S CLEAN-UP TIME

I don’t know if procrastination and technology should be used in the same sentence, but I’d would like to propose the notion of putting off implementing VoIP or Category 6 cabling and take the time to do some things you have always vowed to do such as cleaning up the telecom rooms.

Some of you know what I’m talking about. In the spirit of saving time during repair or re-arrangement work we have taken little short cuts vowing to go back to do it right. The problem being that we never seem to find the time.

Or if we do have a little time on our hands, we would much rather be doing something else, something cool.

The funny thing is that probably the next time you go back into the closet, the very thing that you vowed to one day do is suddenly causing you grief.

Like I said, I don’t know if it’s correct to use procrastination and VoIP in the same breath because the technology is so new and still trying to find its legs. After all, who really wants to be the one who champions an initiative in order to hold it up until it’s ready to walk on it’s own?

SHOW ME THE SAVINGS

In a previous column, I mentioned that there are two basic flavours of VoIP – intra-office (set or line-side) and inter-office (trunk side). Inter-office, or between office locations works and depending on the products used, can work quite well. And lo and behold, some of the cost-savings that were promised are actually being realized.

A word of caution, however, if you do decide to piggy-back voice onto your traditional data network traffic — make sure that the product you select can establish the voice connection over a typical voice line in the event of network congestion, because unlike data, each and every voice packet has to get through.

There is nothing worse than poor quality of service on a voice network that has traditionally been 99.999 per cent reliable. As proof of that, all you need to do is look at some of the cell coverage in certain geographic areas.

VoIP telephones in the office environment is an entirely different story. I’m still trying to figure out how putting VoIP sets on the desks of users who simply perform administration functions, that typically are a “drag” on the bottom line of a company, is going to save money.

How can a VoIP set improve shareholder value? At least with VoIP between office locations, real cost savings are being achieved. Operating costs are being reduced, which in-turn increases profit, which ultimately increasing shareholder value.

Maybe I’m missing something, but unless you have a high rate of movement within your facilities I just don’t see the savings on the set side.

And I don’t want to hear about the potential for reduced cabling costs either — let’s not forget that cabling costs are a small fraction of a companies overall technology budget.

Besides, a prudent cabling design warrants two or three cables to each desktop in order to support additional connections for printers, fax machines, modem lines, power-fail sets and the like.

Being the self-admitted procrastinator that I am, at the moment I would prefer to spend my networking/ cabling capital dollars making upgrades and cleaning-up the cabling plant — things that I have been putting off doing — and let others struggle through with this new technology.

Can procrastination be a good thing? Sometimes, but I’ll let you decide.

Mark Maloney, RCDD, is a Senior Consultant with Ehvert Technology Services in Toronto and a member of Cabling Systems’ Editorial Advisory Board.


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