Unified communications added to network monitoring tool

Unified communications and VoIP monitoring can be difficult tasks, but Network General today released a tool to help provide insight into the two critical services.

Unified communications have become an integral part of many companies' voice networks. But more data converged onto one network can create a more complicated monitoring environment.

This week, Network General released an update to its VoIP Forensics solution, VoIP Intelligence, adding in a new level of VoIP and unified communications visibility.

Essentially, VoIP Intelligence displays individual call performance and overall VoIP metrics, adding visuals of per-call VoIP performance and correlations of voice and video communications with other data traffic patterns.

"There is nothing more human than communicating with someone through voice and video," said James Messer, Network General's technology marketing manager.

As VoIP deployments evolve and incorporate more unified communications solutions, such as integrated messaging, conferencing and video services over IP, IT departments are encountering a new level of complexity. Typically, each new solution requires its own management tool. And with VoIP and unified communications relying heavily on real-time availability, IT faces the further challenge of avoiding disruption to these systems, which have become critical communications tools.

Messer said VoIP Intelligence, which is under the Business Intelligence Suite umbrella, rolls VoIP and unified communications management into one suite that includes detailed VoIP and unified communications performance information with dashboard-level IT service views.

VoIP Forensics, Messer said, links voice and video performance with IT service delivery. Network General's new VoIP Intelligence application now offers greater insight into the details of voice and video communications.

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VoIP performance is examined to determine throughput and response time, Messer said, while individual call statistics are viewed, filtered and examined at the packet level. Comprehensive Business Container service views drill down into both network-level VoIP conversation metrics and health information relating to the VoIP components themselves.

In addition, individual conversations are graphed to a millisecond level, illustrating jitter, delay, out-of-sequence frames and dropped packets of voice information, all of which can cause degradation of audio and video quality. Network and voice managers can essentially see VoIP conversations without examining pages of statistics, and communications that are usually lost when a call is completed can be retrieved and problems identified within a single set of VoIP performance management views.

VoIP and video performance can be measured by:

  • Detecting audio and video performance impairments caused by network-related factors like jitter, loss and transmission delay variations.
  • Isolating the relationship between VoIP impairments and performance of other applications at specific points in time, assuring the ongoing performance and availability of critical business services.
  • Viewing the entire unified communications environment as a single business service, ensuring that the performance and availability of the diverse technologies can be managed from a single dashboard.

"Organizations are challenged to find effective management systems to maintain the performance and availability of their Voice over IP and unified communications services, especially as usage increases," said Ken Boyd, Network General's CIO and executive vice president for product delivery.

Gartner Inc. analyst Jeff Snyder agreed.

"Users are extremely sensitive to any kind of performance or quality variation in their voice service," Snyder said. "IT needs solutions that actively monitor converged communications in real time and provide a clear indication of how to correct any problems before they impact users."

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