How should my network be configured to accommodate videoconferencing?

The network typology and configuration make everything work great or not so great. Let’s focus on how your network works great with videoconferencing in the mix. Assuming you have enough bandwidth in your network you need to look at the configuration to see if this will accommodate video conferencing. The best way would be to implement MPLS or Multi Protocol Label Switching. This prioritizes the types of packets in the protocol standards for voice and video. This means that any packets transferring voice and video will get priority on your network. All other data such as email or file transfers will get secondary priority. More often than not the secondary data packet delay is unnoticed. If there is a delay on voice or video, this is highly noticed as a voice call is choppy or disconnects and video distorts or freezes.

The main protocol standards for voice and video are SIP and H.323. These International standards are established through the ITU, (International Telecommunications Union). SIP or Session Initiation Protocol is more commonly used in VoIP or Voice over IP applications. H.323 is the IP Internet Protocol and is commonly used in video conferencing Applications although video can also work through SIP. The MPLS configuration will certainly accommodate both protocols.

Another element to consider in your network configuration is Qos or Quality of Service. Quality of Service insures that there is efficient traffic on your network with little packet loss. If you have enough bandwidth and the combination of MPLS with Qos you will have no or very little problems with the video conferencing application.

One more consideration is your firewall. You can certainly have security and reliable video conferencing that connects to those outside of your network. Make sure you video conferencing solution has firewall transversal features and that you have ports open in your firewall that accommodate video conferencing. For example, port 80 is usually open or video conferencing. Also, the video conferencing CODEC or system will accommodate a NAT or Network Address Translation. NAT modifies IP address information in packet headers while in transit across a traffic routing device. This means you can have a public IP address or NAT address for those outside of your network to connect to your video conferencing system behind your firewall.

There are times when the network is so badly configured and inadequate that video conferencing will never work and in fact make the network performs worse or even crash. In this case you should consider separate circuits dedicated to the video conferencing equipment.