QandA: Tim Hebert, CTO, Atrion Networking

Test Center Assistant Managing Editor Sharon A. Linsenbach recently spoke with Tim Hebert, CTO of Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I., systems integrator specializing in voice, data and video.

CRN: What is your rate of successful VoIP installations vs. failures?

HEBERT: If I had to rate all the IP telephony installations we've done, our involvement has led to a very high rate of success. There are very few I would classify as a failure. The true test is whether the client was able to achieve their ultimate goal—cutting costs, increasing productivity, whatever their goal was. As far as the reliability of the technology, that's a different story. Three or four years ago, we were challenged when working with vendors to make sure the technology worked together as software and hardware products, and it was difficult to make sure the code was stable.

CRN: What does your staff need to know to do these installations?

HEBERT: You have to have a very strong project management practice. There's a ton of planning and communications between the vendor, the VAR and the client. Project management allows that communication to take place on a regular, consistent basis. The project manager has to understand both voice and data, since they are treated differently. They also have to understand how to nudge the client to make the right hardware and software choices. The other thing you need is someone who understands client complaints.

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CRN: Are there certifications or training classes you recommend?

HEBERT: We look at three areas that are almost required to be good at VoIP. Project management is one. We do a lot of our own sales training, but we also send our people out to third-party sales training classes. The second is Microsoft training. I find a lot of voice and data vendors are not as strong in this area, but people need to understand Active Directory, Exchange and Messaging in order to be good at this. And Cisco ... we want our technical guys to go through [Cisco's] IPC certification.