At VoiceCon on August 20 NetQOS will step up to the plate to deliver visibility into the performance of VOIP (voice over IP) systems for network operators when it launches its new NetQOS VOIP Monitor appliance.
The performance monitoring company, best known for its ability to track the performance of applications across wide area networks, will provide network operators with the big picture view of how network anomalies affect the quality of voice traffic.
Specifically, NetQOS VOIP Monitor gathers call setup and call quality metrics and combines such data with underlying network performance data gathered by the NetQOS Performance Center.
For call setup operations, it gathers such metrics as time to dial tone and post-dial delay. For call quality it gathers Mean Opinion Scores and metrics on network problems that affect audio quality.
The appliance also alerts on call performance issues. For problems specific to an IP phone or user, a feature dubbed Call Watch allows users to report on call quality every 15 seconds for "real time and richer data on specific phone numbers that you may have issues with," described Jim McQuaid, senior product manager for VOIP at NetQOS in Raleigh, NC.
Although the appliance passively monitors VOIP traffic from a connection on the span port of a switch that also connects to the Call Manager, it is able to gather performance data not only from the Call Manager, but also from gateways and from the instrumentation in the IP phones themselves.
"We sample the information from the phone, including the transmission of the call quality summary (transmitted from the phone to the Call Manager database of call quality records). And were talking to the gateways using SNMP to get their information," said McQuaid.
"Getting MOS scores from the phone points a finger to let you know whats happening. What I like is that you dont have to go through multiple screens (to see that)," said a NetQOS customer beta testing the appliance, who asked not to be identified.
Also, by using existing instrumentation in the phones, the NetQOS VOIP Monitor obviates the need to deploy an agent and eliminates the necessity of continuously querying the Call Manager.
Although it initially only works with Cisco Call Center Manager version 4.2 or higher, NetQOS plans to add support for a second vendor next year. A single appliance can support up to 10,000 phone and up to 10 appliances can be deployed to support 100,000 phones.
Read more here about NetQOS Performance CenterKEYWORDS HERE.
NetQOS Performance Center provides performance monitoring, traffic analysis and device performance management along with IP SLA reporting. Combined with NetQOS VOIP Monitor, it can show the impact of VOIP traffic on existing applications; determine the volume of VOIP traffic traversing the WAN; show whether VOIP traffic from specific users or locations are crowding out other mission critical applications on the WAN; and monitor the performance and availability of VOIP devices and actively test for VOIP jitter, latency and packet loss.
The user interface, provided through the Web-based console in NetQOS Performance Center, is very intuitive, according to the beta tester. "If youre looking for something, very likely youll go to the main page and see what youre looking for. Or if not, you drill down to get more information. Its a one stop shop tool to do it all for you, which is great," he said.
Industry analyst Tracy Corbo believes that with the depth of existing performance monitoring from NetQOS, it was a "no-brainer" for them to develop NetQOS VOIP Monitor, and they are well positioned to provide such monitoring. But with a price tag of $29,500 per appliance, it is aimed at those customers who really want to see whats going on in their networks.
"Is it a solution for everybody? Not unless youre willing to spend the money," said Corbo, who is a senior analyst at IDC in Framingham, MA.
NetQOS VOIP Monitor is due in September.
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