Starting on June 20, the two companies will provide to Polycom service providers a new tool that allows them to offer a hosted network-readiness assessment service that does not require a "truck roll" or an on-site visit by a technician.
Called the AppCritical Remote Network Assessment tool, it will enable Polycom service providers to "do assessments on their potential VOIP [voice over IP] customer networks to ensure those networks are efficiently set up and configured correctly, so that when VOIP solutions are implemented they will go in smoothly," said Irfhan Rajani, president and CEO of Apparent Networks, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
By enabling Polycom service providers to remotely test customers networks for issues such as jitter, latency, packet loss, packet reordering, full/half duplex mismatches and poorly performing NICs, the tool can reduce the time and resources required for a VOIP installation as well as post-installation troubleshooting.
"This makes it easy for our service providers and resellers to assess the readiness of the customers network before we do any [deployment]. For any problems identified ahead of time, they can take corrective action," said Charlie Wiseman, director of global services marketing at Polycom, in Andover, Mass. "If a report comes back clean, they know the deployment will go smoother and the customer will be more satisfied."
At the same time, it makes such predeployments economically feasible for SMEs (small and midsize enterprises). "Historically, most service providers have armed sales engineers with laptops that require them to go on site to do assessment. But the economics dont work to send an individual to do an assessment for SMEs. This is all downloadable [from the Web]," said Rajani.
Although the AppCritical Remote Network Assessment tool will be offered specifically to Polycom service providers, Rajani did not rule out making it available to a broader range of service providers or VARs later this year.
"This is our first partnership weve announced. Polycom has shown great leadership in taking advantage of this technology, and we are going to market with them as partners," he said.
AppCritical RNA is part of Apparent Networks broader product suite, which also provides remote troubleshooting, ongoing monitoring for quality of service across customer networks and on-site predeployment assessments.
Polycom will also promote usage of the tool among service providers for post-deployment troubleshooting services. "Post-deployment, they can do an assessment to make sure the environment is clean or make recommendations to solve problems we find," said Wiseman.
Polycom will offer the tool to all of its service providers. It requires "a relatively low level of training," said Wiseman.
The AppCritical RNA tool discovers all IP devices on a remote network and pinpoints the cause and location of known network problems. It can test infrastructure elements such as WAN links, handsets, clients and servers. It is available immediately.