Measuring Voice over IPs Effect on Network Performance

January 10th, 2007 |
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In this first of two podcasts we talk with Susan Andersen, director of product marketing for voice management solutions at CA. As more organizations migrate to IP telephony and Voice Over IP, they need to manage the convergence of voice and data on their network. Susan tells us what assessment needs to be done of your organization’s network before making any decisions about how to manage this migration.

Transcript:

Host: Paul Lancour – PodTech

Guest: Susan Andersen – CA

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Welcome to “Because your Business Can’t Wait”, a series of Podcast focusing on CA service availability solutions. I’m Paul Lancour with PodTech.net and this is the first of two Podcast with Susan Andersen, Director of Product Marketing for Voice Management Solutions at CA. More and more organizations are migrating to IP Telephony and Voice over IP. In doing so they put new demands on infrastructure. Susan says,” The first step in planning for a shift to VoIP is to do a network assessment.” I asked her, why?

Susan Andersen – CA

Most importantly you want to ensure that there is going to be consistency in the delivery of voice to your customers. So, in other words, your customer is used to having a particular level of service today with voice and you want to make sure you are going to deliver that same level of service and this is whether it’s an internal customer or an external customer. So, you want to make sure they are getting the same level of service.

The other thing that’s important about this is, your vendor that you choose for Voice over IP or for your IP Telephony equipment is probably going to require you to do an assessment. Because they want to ensure the success of this project, this deployment and it’s going to be important for them to make sure that there is enough bandwidth on your network. Do you need to upgrade any hardware, routers or switches in order to handle this additional capacity? So, those were some of the reasons why it’s important to do that.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, what does this assessment consist of?

Susan Andersen – CA

Well, typically you are going to be looking at a couple of different areas when you do a network assessment. First and foremost, you are going to look to see if you have the right capacity today. I mentioned that previously in terms of, do I have the right level of hardware, do I need to upgrade router? So, I need to upgrade software in these systems, but one of the most important things here is to make sure that I have enough bandwidth. So, you want to make sure you have enough bandwidth by doing some test calls across the network. This is something that could be achieved with a number of tools that are out there, that will evaluate to do some synthetic calls that will help determine if you have enough Bandwidth.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, synthetic calls. What exactly is that?

Susan Andersen – CA

Well, what we mean by synthetic calls is there is a mechanism, it could be a software agent or a hardware agent that sail in the network and there is a sender and receiver if you will and basically it’s just sending what would be considered a Voice over IP call over the network and basically when it gets to the receiver and there is going to be a number of network set that are tallied and those networks are going to tell you how successful their call was? You are going to look at things like was there too much delay?

So, was there latency in the network, was there jitter, was there other kinds of problems, so the quality of that call was very low? The other thing that you want to make sure of is if you have some other competing traffic that’s going on, you are going to send these calls, so it’s not really affecting a real live call, you know, me talking to you. It’s these synthetic calls that are just going across the network at the same time other traffic is going across the network. So, if there is a big problem it’s not affecting anyone’s real call and you can plan for that as you do your roll out.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, it sounds like this is the first step to see if your network is capable of supporting this at all, but it’s not an actual the test of what it would be like with full data transmission and an entire Voice over IP system and its capacity.

Susan Andersen – CA

That’s correct. This is really just a – you’re sort of starting level here and there are other things that you want to look at when you set up your applications on your network, you typically want to set those up and this is most important when you have Voice over IP, you want to set those up in particular classes of service. What that means is, I want to always make sure that voice calls get treated first when there is any potential for a bottleneck and there is mechanisms within the network to be able to achieve this, but the reason you are doing this a sort of test bed of calls is because you want to make sure that other important applications don’t see a lot of delay as well.

So, for example, you could have a call centre that you are deploying Voice over IP to, but they also have to have information for an application to help them answer customer questions. You don’t want them to get the call and then they are waiting a number of seconds for their screen to pop with the information. So, there is a balance there, that’s why you’re doing this test calls.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

But prioritizing Voice over IP, what I understand to is that not only are we are assessing the network to see how well it will carry IP Telephony, but also to assess what kind of an effect it will have on other data transmission on the network as well once it’s deployed.

Susan Andersen – CA

That’s exactly right. So, one of the things you do not want to do when you do your testing, if you don’t want to do this voice testing, this voice quality testing at night. For example, at 2:00 in the morning, because that’s not when the everyday things are going on and people are reading their emails or call centre agents are doing their work unless of course, its 24×7 environment that you are working in, but it’s really most important to do any of these tests during your business hours.

So, you are getting a true picture of what is your capacity, what you need to do to upgrade, how is voice going to be handled in this network? So, when you do that first pilot that you feel, “Yeah it’s pretty good when you are going into it.” That you’ve got enough capacity in there to handle that.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, one of the things you talked about was the synthetic call that you would place in order to test the network, I imagine that’s just one of the number of things that you would do in order to find out the capacity of the network and what your network is ready for and what you need to do to build for the future.

Susan Andersen – CA

That’s right. There are a couple of other tools that a Network Manger would want to take a look at. So, you mentioned the synthetic call, that refer to as active testing. So, that’s where I mentioned before where you have an agent, that’s on one end — a receiver and a sender and they are actually pumping calls to the network and you get certain measurements at the end that will help you to determine where you are?

The other type of testing that’s out there is testing that’s called passive testing. This is something that you might want to do when you get closer to the pilot and what passive testing does is, this is a tool that’s sort of, it’s sort of sits there and listens. It’s gathering information and based on the information its gathering, so it’s called historical information about the call that was placed. If your customer calls and says “I am having a problem.” You can then refer back to that information. So, it’s a type of information that can help you with complaints that are happening right now as opposed to testing that helps you figure out from the capacity standpoint.

So, you want to make sure you have those kinds of tools that are available. The other thing that is important to remember is that network management environment today have tools already in place whether they are performance management tools or they are fault management tools, because they need those to manage the data network. There is information that these types of tools can also pick up that will be helpful in determining the quality of service or capacity beyond with utilization on the network as well as capacity planning. So, what you’re really looking at here is, looking at the tools that you have today and figuring out, what do you need to add onto that to complete that picture for Voice over IP assessment.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, we’re utilizing the tools that already existing in the network, we’re bringing in other tools in order to make a complete assessment. I have taken a look at my network now and I imagine at this point there is a recommendation either to expand the capacity of the network or perhaps to say that your network is at a level at which you can deploy

IP Telephony at this point.

Susan Andersen – CA

That’s correct, and I believe in most cases customers are going to find that they have to do some fine tuning because if you think about for a minute, when you think about the data network and the applications that you are run on your corporate laptops, for example, if your emails are a little bit slow, you complain about it. But, you are going to be really upset if your phone call is not perfect. So, there has to be some additional capacity built in to handle that, there has to be some quality of service that’s built in. I also talked about classes of service. So, all of these things if they are not set up yet in your network will have to be set up. So, there is a little bit of time there before you want to get that all straightened out before you go ahead do the first pilot.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

In our next Podcast, we will take the next step after having assessed the network we will look at what you need to do to continue your role out of Voice over IP for your organization. So, thanks a lot for taking the time out, Susan. We look forward to talking to you further about in the next Podcast

Susan Andersen – CA

Thank you, very much.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Susan Andersen is director of Product Marketing for Voice Management Solutions at CA.

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