AppNeta | The Path

Posts Tagged ‘QoS

The reach and popularity of video conferencing, telepresence and visual collaboration services is exploding, enabling business to happen 24×7 around the world. But, if you’re a consumer or provider of these increasingly business-critical applications, you know they depend entirely on one thing: network performance.

IP-based videoconferencing requires high-performance WAN links. This class of applications operates within a narrow Quality of Service (QoS) window. If network bandwidth, latency, packet loss and/or jitter move outside that limited range, performance is disrupted – and conferences dropped or disrupted.

How can organizations deliver the excellent network service quality that video conferencing – along with so many other crucial applications, like cloud services, VoIP, IP storage and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – require? What does it take to ensure that network performance and QoS stays within that limited range, across an organization’s entire distributed network infrastructure and despite fluctuations in demand?

Many years of experience with customers, including service providers and some of the world’s largest enterprises, show that these are the four key capabilities required:

  1. The ability to continuously monitor all the key network performance metrics (bandwidth, latency, packet loss and jitter) relative to service levels from any location. This is the only way to understand what your users of video conferencing and other IP-based applications are actually experiencing, in real-time.
  1. The ability to monitor network performance all along the service delivery path – even over networks you don’t own. This capability enables you to pinpoint the exact location and cause of performance degradation. It also eliminates the confusion and finger-pointing that can typify network problem resolution. Also, like other IP-based services, the performance of video conferencing services is greatly impacted by the distance packets must travel. So the ability to monitor the entire path enables you to compare performance across multiple providers.
  1. Visibility into all the IP-based applications that are running on the network at any time, and what IP addresses are associated with them. This lets you see how many video conferences (and other bandwidth-intensive IP-based application instances; e.g., streaming audio, BitTorrent sessions, Skype calls) are consuming available bandwidth.
  1. Remote site packet capture and analysis. Relative to video conferencing performance, these capabilities help analyze network problems, monitor WAN bandwidth utilization, gather and report network statistics, and more. Of course, packet capture is also useful for detecting network intrusion attempts, detecting network misuse, filtering suspect network content, etc.

How can your organization quickly and affordably acquire these advanced diagnostic capabilities? Consider the complex network performance management challenges of a business like BCS Global, a leading worldwide provider of managed video conferencing, telepresence and visual collaboration services. This provider must ensure service quality 24×7 across its globally distributed customer base.

BCS Global recently named AppNeta as its network monitoring and WAN performance partner for video conferencing services delivered to thousands of managed endpoints. They made this choice because only AppNeta’s award-winning PathView Cloud suite of performance management services offers all four levels of insight needed to ensure optimal network performance. As an AppNeta partner, BCS Global will leverage PathView Cloud to ensure optimal performance of video conferencing services — offering its customers unmatched insight and time-to-value, while also making sure they get maximum value from their video conferencing investments.

To learn how AppNeta technology can help your organization meet the performance demands of today’s distributed network infrastructure and network-dependent applications like video conferencing, visit www.appneta.com or sign up for a free trial!

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My field engineering team works with customers and partners in many regions and time zones, and we often host working sessions from remote locations.  This provides great opportunities to employ our own solutions and “eat our own dog food” to monitor and troubleshoot common services we use between sites.

I hosted a virtual technology workshop a few days ago  from our Portsmouth office.  We were working with a partner to propose a hosted VoIP PBX service management offer.  I started the meeting using Citrix Online’s GoToMeeting and dialed in using my Vonage business line. 

Early in the discussion I was interrupted by a brief click followed by…dead air.  Vonage has been very reliable from many locations, so I assumed this was a fluke and quickly rejoined the call.  A couple of minutes passed, and my call dropped again.  At this point I was having flashbacks to my days as a subscriper of  AT&T ‘s wireless network last year and experience with many call failures. 

I rejoined and offered my apologies, this time using my Sprint-powered Evo. 

Some of the team members were new to the project, so I took this opportunity to demonstrate PathView Cloud’s network performance monitoring and troubleshooting capability and used  our own experience as an example.

A PathView microAppliance in my office was monitoring my Internet connection all the way to a companion  device located in a San Francisco area hosted facility.  This shows the WAN performance from the remote office out over the Comcast cable network and out to ‘the cloud’ using a variety of protocols including ICMP, UDP, and TCP. 

As you can see from the performance charts, data and voice loss were substantial, peaking at 20% several times throughout the day.  Mean Opinion Score (MOS) suffered as well.  You can see a number of red diamond-shaped event markers indicating performance violations for the path.  

   

Looking at the same path in a dual-ended view, we see loss in both directions but peaking on the return leg – San Francisco to Portsmouth.  You can also see a lot of transience of the route taken by the UDP packets used by PathView.  Check out the yellow diamonds indicating each route change.

 

It’s no wonder I was having dropped VoIP calls!  Looking at the diagnostic showed a clear issue in the Comcast network, starting with the first hop near my office.  Packet loss in the range of 4-12 % was experienced when the diagnostic fired.  You can also see where the ISP is retagging the QoS values in the IP headers defined for the path.  This isn’t unheard of, since QoS is rarely supported over broadband networks and the best effort Public Internet. 

When troubleshooting an issue with VoIP over the WAN, you don’t necessarily have to own the hosted PBX to gain meaningful insight to the performance between your handset and the service.  Often times the problem is with the WAN connection, and you can easily use PathView Cloud to monitor the performance from your LAN out to a hosted microAppliance.  If you’re an existing PathView Cloud customer or partner, check out our support site for details on targeting one of our hosted microAppliances for this purpose. 

With a solid example of WAN performance affecting hosted VoIP quality as context we went on to complete a productive workshop that day. 

Our own dog food: delivered easily via the cloud, and it never tested so good!

-Adam

As you may have seen from a press release earlier today PathView 2.0 is very near to release, and I wanted to give you a glimpse into what’s new in this major release. This is just a brief overview and there will be more detail on key features in this blog and on the ApparentTools.com site in the coming days and weeks.

PathView Report Server – PathView has some great information on your networks performance, and now you have an automated, scalable and customizable way to share that information with other users. PathView Report Server enables you to create or customize reports and dashboards through a simple web based drag-and-drop interface, then schedule these reports for automatic generation and delivery to any number of users.

Virtualization Support – This has been a major focus for us in 2.0, and there is more to come in the near future as we are now part of the VMware Technology Alliance. You can now run the PathView Server on VMware ESX and the performance analysis and diagnostics to VM targets is better than ever. Stay tuned for even more capability in the VM space in upcoming releases.

VoIP Enhancements – VoIP environments have been a strong point for PathView from day one, but 2.0 includes continuous VoIP specific analysis and diagnostics, so that voice specific metrics like MOS, Voice Loss and Voice Jitter are available at all times for Voice Paths.

QoS Enhancements – Support for QoS has also been enhanced in 2.0, so now you can actually see QoS values in the hop-by-hop breakdown provided with diagnostic tests. You can also model multiple paths between the same source and destination with different QoS values to directly correspond with different service levels between offices.

Performance Improvements – PathView’s diagnostic engine has also been enhanced so that problems are identified and diagnosed up to 600% faster. These performance gains enable you to resolve problems on slow WAN links many times faster than before with no drop off in accuracy.

PathView Team – Along with 2.0 we are also announcing new models of PathView to support larger customers’ network environments. PathView Team supports multiple, concurrent users, remote access to PathView and up to 40 network sequencers. If you have already purchased PathView and want to upgrade, you will get 100% trade in credit to upgrade for your current license towards PathView Team.

You can visit us at booth 1443 at VMWorld this week in San Francisco to learn more about these and other great features in PathView 2.0.


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