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Archive for the ‘Video Conferencing’ 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!

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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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As a pre-sales engineer, I see a lot of interesting network performance management scenarios while working with future customers on product trials.  I’ve seen everything from a managed switch that had a rogue 10-meg port to a problematic WiFi access point, located in the basement of a hospital!

On a recent trial , I was working with a network engineer who works for a video conferencing services provider.  Contrary to what I expected, they were not looking to solve a customer’s problem.  This particular customer was concerned with their own internal Unified Communications platform.  There were three core offices on the east coast, and a remote office in the UK.  Once I heard we were dealing with UC over the WAN between remote offices, I thought “Jackpot! This is PathView Cloud’s forte.”  This is going to be like a Shaquille O’Neal dunk at the Garden.  However, in the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Once we had the PathView Cloud microAppliances deployed in the four various offices, we configured the network paths in a full mesh manner.  The spider web was starting to come together very nicely.  But as I looked the PathView dashboard, I started to see some violations represented by red bubbles on the interface.

Looking more closely at the results of the hop by hop path analysis, it was evident that duplex conflicts everywhere.  Every phone, video camera, even PC in this office was showing a duplex conflict.  “Great!” I thought.  We found the problem.  Change the duplexes. Case closed, let’s go home.

If it were only that easy…

Once we changed the settings, PathView Cloud continued to detect errors.  Some were cable errors, some were limiting errors.  I started to scratch my head – what could this possibly be?  I ran the results by a couple other engineers on my team.  Adam Edwards, Director of Systems Engineers, thought it could be the switch which was bad.

After I shared the findings with the customer, he was a bit hesitant because his SNMP polling device was saying the switch was running as it is supposed to.  To humour me, he swapped out the switch.  As soon as that happened, the performance was drastically better.  We still have not been able to definitively determine what caused the issue, though we are pretty sure it’s something tied to the settings that controlled the RTP/RTCP streams.

During the analysis phase of this, it felt like a twelve round bout with Mike Tyson.  We found duplex conflict, rate limiting, and eventually uncovered that the whole switch was bummed out.  All of this came right through the PathView Cloud interface within minutes of deploying the microAppliances.  PathView Cloud performance was like David Ortiz batting in the bottom 9th. Only he will win.

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.


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