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Archive for the ‘Unified Communications’ Category

"Many customers looking to implement a VoIP solution for the first time have absolutely no idea how critical a clean data path is to its usability. We use PathView and PathView Cloud to get an in-depth look at a customer's network health. It's like an MRI for their IT departments." – Eric Knaus, president of RonEK Communications


How are you ensuring a successful transition before plugging in the first phone?

VoIP, Video and Unified Communications are highly cost-effective network services. While your wallet may be breathing a sigh of relief, your network is about to get the wind knocked out of it by the  weight of VoIP and video conferencing services. Network performance is dependent on existing applications and user activity so network engineers implementing VoIP must take this into account.

In the past, enterprise companies dedicated a separate network or connection specifically for VoIP. If the phones don’t work, your business stops. For many organizations, adding to the existing network demand and performance challenges is unrealistic.

Throwing VoIP onto a network without pre-assessing is like jumping into a pool without checking for water (ouch!). Without a full comprehensive inspection of your surroundings, the results will be painful.

As VoIP moves toward a standard application regardless of business size, network engineers are forced to piggy back VoIP onto the existing infrastructure. And for any network engineer who wants to maintain the performance of existing applications AND ensure the performance of the new VoIP services, a pre-deployment network assessment is critical

An Effective VoIP Assessment will:

• Measure the call load capability of the network

• Identify the faults and shortcomings of the network

• Provide a holistic view of the network’s ability to handle data and voice traffic

• Lower the project’s cost estimates

• Verify service level agreements (SLAs)

• Eliminate the network as a gating factor in the VoIP project

A functioning network does not always equal a prepared network. Issues in the infrastructure may not be visible until the weight of a VoIP implementation crushes it.

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But where are the problems that are going to obstruct VoIP performance?

Three key benefits to conducting Advanced Network Assessments:

1. Test how well the network will perform without deploying a single device. VoIP pre-deployment assessment should look at the current state of the converged network, evaluate its ability to support VoIP and identify the dysfunctions that are restricting performance and the requirements to meet call load need.

2. Look at the life-cycle of your network in relation to VoIP. Generate call loads over days or weeks to take into account on and off peak network services. See in real-time how scheduled back-ups, data uploads and periodic events will affect voice quality.

3. Simplicity. Take it one site at a time. If the company decides to bring on a new location, your assessment process should not start from scratch.

Pre-deployment assessments should be done prior to purchasing or deploying any VoIP equipment or making any upgrades. Get yourself a complete analysis of the end-to end data network, recording important measurements such as bandwidth, utilization, throughput, loss, jitter, latency and MOS. A proper assessment will identify and isolate faults on the network that currently inhibit application performance.

PathView Cloud will ensure a successful VoIP deployment and ongoing performance. PathView Cloud generates a series of packet bursts that are placed on the network in a proprietary manner and collect the information required for a full analysis of the involved network segment from end-to-end

Want to learn more? Visit AppNeta or do a FREE pre-assessment on your network today with the 14-day free trial!

Today’s business services are increasingly dependent on predictable network performance and availability. At the same time, changes to network infrastructure  – such as the addition of IP-based services like VoIP, video conferencing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS); the proliferation of Wi-Fi-connected devices; unmanaged elements such as streaming audio– all mean that performance requirements for your customers’ critical applications demand a much higher level of service delivery and quality assurance.

Recurring-RevenueFor MSPs, your ability to provide continuous insight into customers’ dynamic network infrastructure is critical to delivering your existing services and ensuring a quick, effective response to customer performance problems. Some key elements to assuring performance for your customers’ networks and building your business at the same time include:

— Providing monthly reporting and immediate performance alerts when issues arise.

— Differentiating your business by moving from a traditional, break-fix engagement model based on remediating failures to a proactive, strategic service tailored to customer needs.

— Reducing trouble tickets;  eliminating truck rolls and on-site engineers

How can your business transition from break-fix troubleshooting to continuously and proactively managing your customers’ network infrastructure?

PathView Cloud offers remote site network and application performance monitoring that delivers exceptional network insight, alerts, reporting and troubleshooting, from one integrated network performance management solution.

Here are three easy ways MSPs can use PathView Cloud to get started with new remote, continuous network performance monitoring services:

#1: Network health assessments

Proactive network assessments are a great way to highlight network issues, while showing your customers the value of continuous network performance monitoring. PathView Cloud lets you deliver not only comprehensive, point-in-time assessment reports, but also continuous assessments over a business cycle (e.g., seven to fourteen days). This information can lead directly to a managed services discussion.

#2: “Top talker” reporting at remote sites

Who is doing what on your customer’s network? PathView Cloud enables you to give customers periodic (e.g., monthly) net flow reports that deliver valuable insight into who and what is consuming network bandwidth. Like a network assessment, this information can illuminate network issues while also presenting an ideal opportunity to discuss managed service options.

#3: Cloud services readiness assessment

Assessing a customer network’s readiness for cloud services is a simple undertaking with PathView Cloud. AppNeta recommends running such assessments for seven days to capture a full business cycle. A pre-deployment assessment can save your customers significant time and money by providing a holistic view of their network’s ability to handle additional traffic, as well as identifying ongoing and  transient network issues. It also facilitates a discussion of the value of continuous monitoring services post-deployment to validate and ensure compliance with SLAs.

More and more MSPs are using PathView Cloud to realize ongoing revenue streams from unmatched remote site performance visibility and continuous network assessment offerings.  Check out the live PathView Cloud demo, or try PathView Cloud on your network today with a free 14-day trial!


Managing Network Performance for Video Conferencing (Including “Video Sprawl”)

cisco-telepresenceToday’s video conferencing and telepresence solutions offer amazing reliability, incredible business value and a huge range of features and price points. No wonder there’s so much video running on enterprise networks!

But like other IP-based applications from VoIP, to SaaS, to virtual desktops, video conferencing applications are highly sensitive to network performance. The health of your network is vitally important to your business – and video conferencing can have a major impact on network performance. You need to know how your network is performing to ensure that your phone calls and videoconferences don’t degrade or blip out completely.

Managing network performance for video conferencing deployments requires two levels of insight:

  1. The ability to measure and manage network performance metrics like bandwidth, jitter and packet loss to ensure consistent service quality across your growing portfolio of deployed IP-based applications.
  2. Knowledge of the ever-growing network utilization and the impacts associated with all the desktop-to-desktop, browser-based video calls your employees are making for business and personal reasons – so-called “video sprawl.” (Streaming media, personal mobile devices and other ad hoc network usage further adds to “sprawl.”)

Many companies are deploying new videoconferencing services and essentially hoping they’ll “just work.” But “hope is not a strategy” – it’s a risky path. To mitigate that business risk, you need a solution to access the capacity of your network prior to deployment. Further, you need a process for monitoring network performance in real-time across your entire extended enterprise, so that you can verify service levels and understand what users are experiencing.

How can you ensure that your network is ready and able to support new video conferencing deployments? AppNeta is sponsoring a 60-minute webinar with No Jitter today (Wednesday, June 15) at 11AM Pacific/2PM Eastern Time on the topic: “Best Practices for Managing the Performance of Your Video Conferencing Deployments (Those You Know About and Those You Don’t).”

If your organization is in the midst of rolling out videoconferencing (and whose isn’t?), this objective, reliable information will be just what you need. Please join us live, or stop back later to hear the recording.

To learn more about AppNeta’s affordable, cloud-based network performance management solutions and how they can help maximize the value and performance of your videoconferencing and other IP-based business services, visit www.appneta.com.

unified-communicationsThe cost reduction and infrastructure consolidation benefits of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) are so compelling that many organizations are rolling out these services without a solution to manage the user experience.

UC&C aims to converge telephony, messaging, mobile communications, video conferencing and presence-enabled applications onto a common, IP-based network. But chances are that network is already burdened with a host of services, from e-mail to SaaS applications to Internet media streams to online storage to virtual desktops.

The more traffic is loaded onto the network – and the greater the distance between the users and the services consumed – the higher the risk of poor network performance and application failure. UC&C applications, like many of today’s complex, network-dependent applications, falter and crash abruptly as soon as network performance degrades below a specific threshold. Even minor performance issues often result in degraded VoIP call quality, faltering videoconferences, or complete service failure.

Companies that hope to simply “drop in” UC&C services and expect they’ll work with no significant hiccups are taking a major business risk. To assure service delivery, UC&C systems demand stable and dependable network performance. This means not just sufficient bandwidth, but also minimal latency, packet loss and jitter.

Traditional, SNMP-based network management tools aren’t capable of monitoring the experience of remote users accessing IP-based services, which are entirely dependent on real-time network performance. Netflow analysis tools can help bridge the performance management gap, but they generally require significant bandwidth and are expensive to deploy and manage. Few organizations have the cash to deliver netflow analysis to and at the remote sites where the capability is most needed.

Network engineers and CTOs are well aware that in many cases their tools lack the “intelligence” needed to manage service levels across an ever-growing range of IP-based applications, including UC&C. Problem resolution becomes a time-consuming crapshoot, and capacity planning is simply a question of “how much bandwidth can we afford?”

To understand what’s happening with UC&C at remote sites, you need integrated network performance management capabilities that enable you to continuously monitor service levels end-to-end across any network infrastructure running IP-based services – even those hosted by third parties. You need to be able to:

  • Quickly and accurately assess a network’s readiness for a new or expanded UC&C deployment
  • Continuously monitor the performance of on-premise, hosted SIP or fully hosted UC&C services over any network
  • Cost-effectively measure and report on specific SLAs to meet and ensure the performance needs of your users

AppNeta’s cloud-based PathView Cloud network performance management solutions deliver instant value through actionable insight into the network performance metrics that are vital to the success of your UC&C deployments.

To learn more about how PathView Cloud technology can enable you to successfully manage the performance of your UC&C services, visit  www.appneta.com.

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Today marks the launch of AppNeta.

Born of the best of the technology and team of Apparent Networks, AppNeta has a bold vision to bring the benefits of cloud-computing to the world of performance management. The transformation to AppNeta started in concept nearly two years ago, gained its first traction with the launch of PathView Cloud just over a year ago, and becomes official today with our first 1,000 customers under management and the official launch.
Apparent Networks has long been known for having compelling technology in the area of Network Performance Management, although compelling is probably an understatement.  Our core “Path” technology has been used by some of the worlds largest enterprise and IT Outsourcing accounts for years.  It has been judged by some of the most demanding customers in the world as the gold-standard for distributed network performance management (NPM).

Compelling?…YES.  Easy to deploy?  Affordable?  These were seldom the words that were used to describe the legacy solutions delivered by Apparent.  For customers who really needed our solution, there was no alternative.  Our patented Path technology remains the leading solution available in the market today.  But there were many (many!) customers who could see the value, but for whom the bar was set too high in terms of cost of acquisition and ownership.  All of that has changed with AppNeta.

Our mission at AppNeta is to deliver instant-value to network leaders by providing the insight they need to guarantee the reliable delivery of networked applications such as VoIP, Video, Cloud Services and Virtualization.

Instant-value?…YES.

A cloud-based service that is enabled by a zero administration microAppliance.  Just plug it in and gain unparalleled insight in support of your networked applications.  AppNeta’s solutions are simple to deploy and manage.  No software to download, no hardware to acquire, provision or manage.  Just plug in your microAppliance (included free with your annual SaaS contract) and get immediate network performance insight through the cloud, WAN or VPN.  Application performance insight from the perspective of your remote sites?  Absolutely.  All part of an affordable annual service contract.

What’s in a name?  In this case, the future of performance management.

AppNeta.  Instant-value in Network Performance Management.

Check it out at www.appneta.com

High-definition video conferencing from your computer or mobile device out to anyone, anywhere has arrived.

While all tiers of the video conferencing and telepresence marketplace are experiencing strong growth, the biggest leaps are happening with low-cost, desktop- and browser-based “single-codec” systems.

Among the many options in this burgeoning space:

  • Tandberg, now owned by Cisco, offers a range of office, desktop and mobile video conferencing and solutions that combine high quality with low cost.
  • Cisco also owns WebEx, which has long combined video conferencing and desktop sharing through a browser given sufficient bandwidth.
  • Skype currently offers “free” high-definition quality video calling on Windows that requires only an HD webcam and 512kbps connectivity.
  • The feature of the iPad 2 that’s creating the most buzz among executives is probably FaceTime video conferencing, which works quite well over wi-fi. The BlackBerry PlayBook will also include a video conferencing app.

For business as well as personal reasons, a skyrocketing number of ad hoc, browser-based video conferences will be going out over your network – sooner than you think!  Likewise, more and more organizations are installing affordable telepresence technology in executive offices and conference rooms.

The question you, and your IT team, need to ask is: Can your network handle this massive influx of extra traffic? How big of an impact will it have on the performance of all the other network-based services your business now relies on – from VoIP to SaaS/cloud applications to virtual desktops to online backups?

Every one of these critical systems will falter and fail abruptly if network performance degrades even slightly below a specific threshold. The greater the volume of traffic converging on the network, the greater the likelihood of service quality problems resulting in dropped calls, disrupted meetings, failed backups and reduced overall productivity.

While everyone is discussing the massive growth of video-conferencing, we are failing to talk about a key component – how will we deploy and manage the performance of this sensitive and now critical application?

Many businesses are expecting their new videoconferencing services to “just work.” But do they? Do you have a way to assess the capacity of your network prior to deployment? Can you successfully monitor network performance in real-time, both at the home office and at remote sites? What are your employees, partners and customers experiencing on the phone, in the conference room or at their computer?

To monitor and troubleshoot the performance of videoconferencing, VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) and other IP-based applications, companies must look beyond traditional performance management solutions like SNMP tools. These systems aren’t designed to measure the quality of network-dependent services from the standpoint of distributed users, particularly when delivered over third-party and public networks.

To address the dynamic performance challenges associated with today’s converged IP networks requires Remote Performance Management capabilities. Remote Performance Management lets you pre-assess, monitor and troubleshoot how remote and co-located users are experiencing video conferencing, UC&C and other IP-based services, end-to-end, in real-time, from anywhere.

Available as a cloud-based service, PathView Cloud Remote Performance Management is easy to configure and manage, uses almost no network bandwidth and is cost-effective for organizations of any size. If you’re rolling out a video conferencing application, anytime soon, visit www.apparentnetworks.com for more information.

In the past few years, businesses are increasingly focused on two areas: 1) saving money and resources and 2) consolidation and collaboration of operations. Particularly in technology, this consolidation can be witnessed in the jump in virtual desktops and virtual servers, both of which leverage resource sharing and economies of scale to save on space, power and ultimately, cost and complexity. At the same time, we are seeing more and more technologies standardize their protocols and use of network infrastructures.

Unified Communications and Collaboration is the concept of putting both voice and data on a converged line instead of the traditional method of separating phone and computer networks. Placing both voice and data on the same network line requires constant monitoring of that pipe for cases of unexpected interactions between the increased numbers of applications sharing one path. While helping PathView Cloud customers diagnose their networks, we’ve seen a wide variety of network problems; one customer’s VoIP calls had intermittent downtime and dropped calls, but only during the hours of 5-6 PM! With the help of PathView, we detected that the customer’s IP storage was kicking in and backing up computers at 5pm, the standard “end of the work day.” This increased consumption of network bandwidth and the lack of QoS on voice traffic allowed enough packets to drop, resulting in poor voice quality and dropped calls.

AppView Web

AppView Web

We’ve seen how people often assume that the pipe needs to get bigger in order to handle the extra traffic that will be traversing the pipe when Unified Communications are deployed. This is not always the case.

When you have the ability to do application-specific testing, you can see  both sides of the pipe in order to help you find the location of the voice quality issues, whether the voice degradation occurs from site a to site b or vice versa. AppView Voice gives you the ability to test devices with real voice packets to verify voice quality between offices or between buildings. This can be done with a specified number of voice calls on the line for a specific amount of time, giving you information such as Mean Opinion Score (MOS), packet loss, jitter and many other performance metrics, which give you insight into how the network is dealing with the extra load on the line. Similarly, it is important to be able to monitor out to a specific website, returning performance information such as DNS resolution time and Connection establishment time, to be able to see exactly what your bandwidth needs on for web-based applications.

AppView Voice

AppView Voice

Using PathView Cloud will help you determine whether extra bandwidth is needed or if settings or configuration are to blame for issues (such as setting proper QoS settings on voice packets!). So with the big move to unifying your communications, use PathView to save your sanity and help resolve issues in a much faster and more precise fashion.


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