AppNeta | The Path

Posts Tagged ‘VoIP

"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.

Watch Webinar!

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!

Advertisements

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

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.

Today, Apparent Networks will join thought leaders, vendors and providers at Enterprise Connect 2011 in Orlando. Formerly named VoiceCon, Enterprise Connect is the industry’s top enterprise communication event. It’s all about helping enterprises make the best-informed decisions regarding their IP Telephony, Converged Networks and Unified Communications (UC) strategies.

New technologies and architectural options like Cloud and virtualization, which offer both unprecedented opportunities and a potential maze of migration and integration paths, are going to make this year’s show particularly interesting. Times are changing, and so is enterprise communications technology! 

Nowhere is the value of Remote Performance Management more evident and relevant than in the context of unified, distributed and cloud-based enterprise communications, from VoIP to Video Conferencing to Collaboration and Virtualization. As enterprises strive to plan, build, unify and leverage their global communications infrastructures, amid the many possibilities one factor is constant — the ability to pre-assess and continuously monitor, troubleshoot and manage application performance and user experience from the perspective of remote sites will determine whether deployments are successful.

Today’s enterprise is increasingly dependent on distributed IT infrastructure. Predictable delivery of web-based applications like VoIP, video conferencing and cloud-based services is mission-critical. But the performance of these services depends entirely on the bandwidth and reliability of the networks that deliver them to remote sites.

Typical datacenter-centric performance monitoring tools aren’t capable of analyzing network-dependent, site-specific service levels. How can an enterprise monitor the health and quality of its UC services and other web-based applications? The solution is Remote Performance Management.

The PathView Cloud service uniquely provides detailed performance metrics like latency, loss and jitter across all the public networks, WANs, LANs and/or VPNs that enterprise services may traverse, end-to-end, hop-by-hop, from the provider to the user and back. These capabilities enable enterprise customers to detect and potentially address network degradations before they impact users.

We’re very excited about this week at Enterprise Connect and hope you will stop by to visit us at Booth 1413. If you’re not attending, save yourself a trip, and schedule a live, web-based demo with us — call 800-508-5233 or email mailto:PathView_Sales@apparentnetworks.com

Isn’t it an awful feeling when you’re told something by someone who has a vested interest in you believing them?  Let’s face it, who has ever wholeheartedly believed what a salesman told them?  Yeah, there are cries of  ‘snake oil!’ in my head when I’m approached by these types.  So, I’m here to give you the goods.  I work on the Support team here at Apparent Networks and  over the next three days, I’ll bring you a few tales of performance management woe, and how Apparent Networks solutions came to the rescue… Really!

The first case involves an MSP responsible for the local data network. This site consisted of a business cable internet uplink with two LANs onsite; one for data, the other for voice.

The challenge was this: The client’s VOIP call quality was suffering and it was up to this MSP to prove a LAN fault, ISP fault, or VOIP system fault.  You guessed it – everyone was pointing fingers at each other!  Ok, so, how do you tackle this problem? The client installed the PathView & the FlowView Plus switch in the data LAN as they didn’t yet have permission to touch the VoIP LAN.. We set-up single- ended & dual-ended paths to one of the public Apparent Networks responders.  Why both? The dual ended path gave us a dual-ended view of UDP packets but it couldn’t provide full diagnostics because mid-path devices don’t respond to UDP.  Couple this with a single ended path to show diagnostic data – and voila; a complete picture!

What did we find?  We found crazy oversubscription of the link.  Because we used dual-ended we knew upstream was the direction that was saturated.  Great, step one done!  The next question I’m always asked is ‘what is this data and who is causing it?’ FlowView Plus to the rescue!  We ran a capture and within minutes we knew we had computers on the network uploading loads of mail to a hosted mail provider!  One firewall rule later and our MSP client was very happy that they restores voice service as well as fixed a previously unreported slow internet issue!  It’s always nice to uncover problems you didn’t know you had!

Ok, stayed tuned for The Straight Goods Part II…

It is a sign of the times that I need to clearly define the term “cloud services” if I am going to use it as an entry point to this blog. And since I wouldn’t dare assert my position to be expert enough to properly define this term (any attempt would surely bog down this entire effort), I will turn to the main sources of knowledge of our time…

If I type “Cloud services” into Google, the top response is of course a link to Wikipedia.  The Wikipedia search for “cloud services” gets redirected to “cloud computing” which is defined as:

Web-based processing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices (such as smartphones) on demand over the Internet.

It is nice to see my opening premise is not far off the mark. Simply put, a cloud service is a web-based service that is delivered from a datacenter somewhere, be that the internet or a private datacenter to “computers.” For now, let’s leave the definition of an endpoint alone.  I know that is a big reach, but this is my blog, and it really isn’t the point.  The point is that for all of these services, they are generally delivered from a small number of centralized datacenters and consumed at some relatively large number of remote offices.

That is where things get interesting.

If we lived in a world where email and simple web page delivery was the state of the art, well, I wouldn’t have anything to write about, but we don’t.  The mainstream services that are being deployed in education, government, and enterprise accounts are ushering in a completely new level of performance requirements on the networks they depend upon.  Voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing, IP based storage systems for file sharing, backup, and disaster recovery, and recently the deployment of virtual desktop services all bring with them new performance requirements.  Yes, that means more bandwidth, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  All of these applications also have very real requirements on critical network parameters such as (packet) loss, end to end latency, and jitter.   Unlike simple transaction and messaging applications like HTTP delivery and email, when these new “performance sensitive” applications run into in appropriate loss, latency, and jitter, the result is application failure.  Dropped calls and video sessions.  Failed storage services including backup and recovery, and “blue-screens” where virtual desktop sessions belong.  What causes seemingly healthy networks to suffer from latency, loss, and jitter issues?  More on that in a later blog……

Successful cloud service delivery to remote sites is dependent on managing performance at that remote site.  Not datacenter application performance, or server performance, or network device performance.  Service level performance analysis from a remote site is a new topic, and we call it Remote Performance Management or RPM.

Let’s start with the basics, what do we know about RPM.

First, RPM is a location dependent topic.  Of course, the traditional datacenter performance management issues need to be dealt with.  That is part of datacenter service delivery 101.  No debate.  But if we care about the service quality that the users are experiencing, then we need to understand performance from the perspective of the end user, at the remote site.

Next, we need to address the complete performance management lifecycle.  Simply put, Assess the remote office performance PRIOR to service deployment; Monitor the remote office performance DURING service operations, Troubleshoot issues QUICKLY (like you’re there), and Report on the good, the bad, and the ugly.  When you add it all up, you need a broad set of capabilities to meet these needs

Finally, we need to keep it simple, affordable, and scalable.  The problem with most solutions around the remote office is not the device cost, but rather the administrative cost.

The bottom line is that if you are attempting to deliver today’s critical services for remote site consumption, you need to understand performance, so you’d better check your RPMs…….

We get it, traditional telephony is perfect. Nobody ever dropped a call, nobody ever heard echo, and it only cost about as much as a small island in the south pacific per month to run.

“I’m just an old phone guy; I don’t get these network issues.” This is a common line I hear when working through a VoIP deployment issue where the telephony vendor/MSP has become suspect and needs some help in the network arena.

Well, hold on to your MOS scores, because we are on the case.

Our Partner was in the midst of a VoIP deployment at a multi-site financial institution. Three sites out of 27 were known to be experiencing call quality issues and so they enlisted PathView to help solve the problem.  In about 20 minutes worth of monitoring data those same suspect sites were identified and another three that were experiencing the same issue.

Diagnostics were run, providers called, problem solved?? Keep dreaming.

The providers ensured nothing was different about these six sites (except for the fact that the route happened to change for all six shortly thereafter, eliminating the loss found on the path – did I mention we track route history?)

Seemed like we were winning – but then the phone rang with tales of rolling waves of destruction from the central site out to ALL remote offices.  The client of our MSP was outraged.  He swore that this VoIP deployment was a nightmare, and our Partner had their back up against the wall once again.

“Now there is loss everywhere!” Our partner exclaimed.  “What do all these results mean?!”  – I wasn’t scared.

I took a stroll back through the monitoring data collected and found the beginning traces of the loss. I calmly stated, “Looks like something changed on August 25th at around 1:00 in the morning.” (This was clear to me from the spike in loss and a change in route at the core of the network).

Indeed, something did happen on August 25th around 1:00 in the morning. The client was responsible for a swap in network gear that had caused the issue in the first place.  Apparently the client and MSP shared a good laugh about it after the client realized the MSP clearly had all the facts even before the boss did.

But something bigger happened on the follow-up call I had with our Partner – he realized that the “voice guy” in him had just become data-dangerous.  Armed now with enough to diffuse issues from both providers and the end clients alike.


Follow us on Twitter!

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: