ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Terry Slattery
Terry Slattery, is a senior network engineer with decades of experience in the internetworking industry. Prior to joining Chesapeake NetCraftsmen as...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Terry Slattery | February 28, 2013 |

 
   

UC System Test Tools

UC System Test Tools A combination of different tools, each performing a specific type of monitoring and analysis, is needed to properly cover the different types of problems that can occur.

A combination of different tools, each performing a specific type of monitoring and analysis, is needed to properly cover the different types of problems that can occur.

How do you know that your UC systems are operating smoothly and that there are no problems? If you're simply relying on calls and complaints from the user community, you're not being very proactive. The complexity of the UC system, plus the network on which it runs, is more than any single system is designed to handle. Therefore, to get the best coverage of the entire system, you will need more than one tool.

If you're heading to Enterprise Connect this year, you'll find me leading a panel to talk about network test tools. I'll have several vendors there who will provide technical descriptions of what their tools do. You can also find these vendors in the exhibit hall, where they can provide you with more in-depth descriptions of what their products do and how they can help you find, isolate, and correct problems that affect your UC systems.

Monitor The Network
The first tool for UC management is a solid network management architecture. Since UC uses the network as its transport, proactively finding and correcting network problems is a great first step. You'll find that you typically need a set of tools, or multiple modules from some of the larger network management infrastructure vendors. I've written about the network management architecture that has worked well for me in numerous customer engagements in A Network Management Architecture, Part 1, also shown in Figure 1 below. A good network management system should reduce the amount of effort that is required to run the network, allowing you to spend time doing upgrade designs and looking after things like the UC systems.


Figure 1. Network Management Architecture

Active Path Testing
Next up is Active Path Testing, which I have found to be useful for both data and UC. A good active path testing system uses inexpensive probes that are automatically maintained with current versions of software, such as those from AppNeta. An alternative to individual probes is to use the installed network equipment as the probes, as is used in Cisco's IP SLA function.

The tests for UC would include jitter, latency, packet loss, and out-of-order packets. It is also useful to have a record of the Layer 3 hops that the packets traverse between the test source and destination, with alerting when a significant path change occurs.

Manually maintaining the configuration of test paths is a hurdle to a good deployment. Don't fall into the trap of manually configuring a complex set of test paths and then having to maintain it forever. The better systems will make the process of configuring the active test paths easy. Automated configuration systems are extremely useful for reducing the effort that is required to setup and maintain the tests. If you decide that you want to change a parameter for a certain type of test, you want the automation system to make that change across all the tests of that type.

Finally, you need a good reporting system. My philosophy for network management is to configure the systems to report anomalies and to otherwise be silent. I don't need to know about all the paths that are working correctly. There are simply too many of these in a network to individually track each one. A list of paths that exhibit problems, nicely sorted by severity of the problem, provides a "punch list" to direct the daily work of the network and UC administrators.

Next Page: Packet capture



COMMENTS


Who's Who at Enterprise Connect

NEC

Featured This Week:
Sponsored By


April 24, 2014
Small centers are both excited and nervous about the new wave of innovation converging on them as major disruptive forces - cloud, mobile, big data and social - rock the contact center world. They rea...
April 9, 2014
Recent advances in cloud technology have given rise to wide variety of new tools designed to support contact center performance, staffing and reporting. Join us for a live webinar focused on helping c...
March 26, 2014
As more organizations are focused on maximizing customer experience as a key differentiator to stay ahead of the competition and customer expectations, the focus needs to be on interactions across mul...

Sign up to the No Jitter email newsletters

  • Catch up with the blogs, features and columns from No Jitter, the online community for the IP communications industry. Each Thursday, we'll send you a synopsis of the high-impact articles, podcasts and other material posted to No Jitter that week, with links for quick access.

  • A quick hit of original analysis by the experts who bring you Enterprise Connect, the leading event in Enterprise Communications & Collaboration. Each Wednesday, this enewsletter delivers to your email box a thought-provoking, objective take on the latest news and trends in the industry.

Your email address is required for membership. For details about the user information, please read the UBM Privacy Statement

As an added benefit, would you like to receive relevant 3rd party offers about new products/services and discounted offers via email? Yes

* = Required Field

No longer instrested? Unsubscribe here.