As the top issues affecting VoIP call quality are frequently found within the network, integrating network diagnostic capabilities with VoIP management provides significant benefits to both network and voice administrators. An end-to-end view of the entire VoIP ecosystem enables simple and rapid troubleshooting. There are many additional operational benefits for support staff. As VoIP spans multiple operational domains, integrating network and application monitoring leverages skill sets to gather network information and correlate it with VoIP quality issues. This not only reduces the handover time between domains but eases troubleshooting processes. Network and voice administrators don’t have to deal with multiple management tools and user interfaces. Integrated VoIP performance and network views remove the need to perform manual correlation or write scripts and issue complex queries.
Integration also enables shared use of discovered network fabric and management features such as data collection, alerting, reporting and VoIP-readiness assessment. Thresholds for network conditions merge seamlessly with those for VoIP, allowing voice and network administrators to manage common as well as complex VoIP-network related issues. In fact, it is troubleshooting the more complex problems that really benefits from the integration of network diagnostics and specialized VoIP management. For example, network diagnostics can identify all router interfaces over which a particular IP stream is traveling and captures details of the flow occurring on those interfaces during the problematic timeframe. The VoIP administrator can then look at problems such as degraded MOS from a network point of view and see which devices might be the cause.
A network map can show all the end points that have calls with low MOS and the routers in between. Routers with CPU, memory or QoS settings issues will be highlighted together with links experiencing high packet loss, latency or jitter. The network administrator can drill down to see further information about specific routers that may be affecting quality.
Users can create a network map that makes the most sense to them; this could incorporate a hierarchy of nodes with some of the lower-end components close to the source of the problem as well as data aggregated at a higher level. Alternatively, network filtering can be used to view a subset of the network with shortest path linkage, and filter out the lower level components.
To minimize the impact of network diagnostics on bandwidth, the network administrator can control which devices, particularly IP phone addresses, are classified after discovery. Selection can be made via auto-discovery as well as by seeding. Once devices are discovered, filtered and classified, the administrator can quickly conceptualize the network topology. This enables them to determine a root cause visually and determine areas of interest to investigate.
Another benefit of integrating network diagnostics with VoIP management is the ability to unify information presentation. This enables the best correlation between application and network performance. Administrators can replay network and application data collections and compare them. This provides a full picture of trends in the network over time, and correlates network performance with voice quality.
To validate SLA performance, on-line and executive-level reports leverage VoIP-specific information about hardware and software availability, services, and utilization of router, trunk and switch resources. This provides the administrator with useful ways of presenting and using network and application data and leveraging it for optimization, consolidation and capacity planning.
The benefits of integrating network diagnostics with VoIP monitoring are extensive. Visualizing and drilling down on the network fabric and correlating its performance with call and voice quality enhances troubleshooting, minimizes mean time to repair and brings visibility and control of the complete VoIP ecosystem.
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