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Will encrypting UC traffic negatively affect availability?

Our organization is thinking of encrypting our unified communications traffic, but won't that negatively affect availability (the very premise on which UC is based)?

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The short answer is "no". When you say you are thinking of encrypting your unified communications traffic, in what context do you mean? Speaking strictly from a Microsoft perspective, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS 2007) is easily configured to encrypt communications traffic throughout the internal network. Using TLS (Transport Layer Security), communications between individual desktops or devices and the OCS 2007 server are encrypted without any adverse impact to availability, or presence.

Connectivity with OCS 2007 from outside the network is accomplished with the help of an OCS 2007 Edge server which is essentially the DMZ gateway that sits between the internal and external network to allow secure communications from outside. The Edge server can be configured with a certificate and set up to communicate using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). You can learn a great deal more about the security of the OCS 2007 Edge server from this Microsoft white paper.

My follow up answer though is "it depends". If you are not using Microsoft Unified Communications, much of my explanation above may be meaningless to you. However, even with other vendors there is often some sort of similar approach.

This was first published in October 2008

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