Deploying VoIP systems requires a high-level of engineering expertise to accurately integrate with existing network and application infrastructure. When not deployed, or when troubleshooting is done incorrectly, they can have a significant performance impact on the existing network and be a point of frustration for end-users. For us, the first step in any new rollout is an assessment to verify the readiness of the network.
Unfortunately, our old tools didn't have the functionality to make network assessments cost-effective for our clients. Therefore, we outsourced this portion of the project to an assessment specialist. While they did a great job, it meant we lost out on additional project revenue, which was a strategic disadvantage for our company. In addition, once the network assessment was complete, our engineers were responsible for troubleshooting any issues that surfaced during the initial testing.
When problems do emerge following assessment, we have to identify them and give a recommendation to the customer on a fix. This requires providing comprehensive information on the root cause of the issue and how it could impact the deployment. Sometimes this requires significant investment on our end and the process can take days.
Once the network is ready for the VoIP deployment and any problems addressed, our team begins to implement the new system. There are a variety of factors that can impact the rollout and performance. Troubleshooting problems as they arise was a time consuming process as our engineers evaluate performance, identify misconfigured devices and simulate performance of the VoIP system.
Problems often arise when deploying a new system and the burden is on our team to analyze and identify what is causing the issue. In most cases, the issues are not related to the new implementation, but are brought to light because of other configuration issues. This required our team to leverage a variety of tools and manually correlate data and calculations. This complex troubleshooting extended the cycle of a project.
Following the rollout, we validate the performance of the system to ensure it meets the expectations of the client and provides ongoing support. If there is a problem, the engineering team needs to quickly isolate that issue and fix it. So many factors can impact a VoIP deployment. We can leave a system performing perfectly and get a call a week later that there's an issue. The first impulse of a client is to blame our system, but more often than not, it's something the customer changed or added to the network that's impacting performance. Having to travel to the site to fix the problem with tools that require heavy engineering expertise put a heavy burden on our support team. We needed to automate the troubleshooting process and dramatically simplify problem isolation.
We selected Fluke Networks' OptiView XG Network Analysis Tablet. It gives us the ability to quickly troubleshoot problems and identify root cause fast. And, with its support for 1 and 10GbE, along with full 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN analysis, it can be utilized in any environment, whether in a data center, with virtualized servers, or out in the field at a remote site. Furthermore, OptiView XG's new Network Performance Test (NPT) feature allows us to instantly verify network readiness prior to VoIP rollout and address any issues.
OptiView XG has allowed us, for the most part, to eliminate our bag of tools and rely on a single integrated solution for network and application performance testing and analysis. When we deploy our VoIP systems, we have a big list of technical requirements to meet. OptiView XG gives us all the information we need in a handheld tablet that's intuitive and easy to use, but that also gives us the freedom to dive into packet level details. And, when we need to troubleshoot remotely, we can just ship a unit to the customer and access it from our main office.
Since putting the OptiView XG into service, we have rolled pre-network assessments into our service portfolio allowing us to capture additional revenue. When we first saw the OptiView XG in action, we were impressed with its functionality. But, once we got it into action we realized just how powerful it really was. It finds devices and networks in a matter of seconds and actively queries hosts. You can immediately see what's on the network and where it's connected – by switch, slot and port number. It even discovers VoIP devices including call managers, IP phones and more.
Once discovery is complete, we run the new Network Performance Test function allowing us to generate and measure traffic flows across the client and service provider networks. This helps prove the network can support VoIP, and if problems emerge, we can quickly drill into detailed information to isolate and fix the issue, or make any necessary infrastructure changes.
The Network Performance Test function gives us a huge advantage on projects. It allows us to create multiple streams of traffic to one or more endpoints on the network, to measure throughput, loss, latency and jitter at speeds up to 10GigE – with specific QoS settings, frame sizes and rates. The ability to test and ensure QoS throughout the network is a key factor in the success of deployments.
Prior to OptiView XG, we used a variety of tools and packet sniffers, such as Wireshark, to gather information. The manual correlation of data was time consuming and required highly skilled technical engineers. Now, we have one solution that automates all data gathering, presents that information in graphical format, and allows the team to drill down into more detail instantly.
We've never seen this level of functionality in one solution and it allows our engineers to be more efficient and effective. That translates into happy customers. We now use the OptiView XG for all of our network and application troubleshooting. It allows our engineers to dramatically increase problem resolution time by isolating root cause in minutes, instead of hours or days. The graphical representation of information simplifies the process for engineers, and the reporting capabilities allow team members to convincingly show customers where problems are hiding.
VoIP deployments can be incredibly complex. Evaluating the readiness of the network prior to rollout is key to ensuring system performance. Having a solution that can handle network assessments and automate network and application troubleshooting is a huge step forward for the market and our engineers. The OptiView XG allows us to offer additional services to customers, ensure system performance, and provide the ongoing troubleshooting support our clients expect. It truly provides our team with a strategic advantage when deploying VoIP systems.