SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Matt Brunk | December 02, 2016 |

 
   

Bad Voice: Untangling a Network Mess

Bad Voice: Untangling a Network Mess Helping one company figure out why voice quality was so flaky

Helping one company figure out why voice quality was so flaky

As a recent client engagement reminded me, site assessments are imperative for revealing trouble that could create roadblocks but will often require considerable investment of time and money if no clear network architecture or roadmap is in place.

In such situations, the first step is to obtain bills and contracts for carrier services and equipment. Having this information will help you build an accurate picture of what's in place when folks onsite may or may not be able to explain what they have and why. A good second step is the basic one of taking inventory. Then comes mapping connectivity between sites and services. These later steps require onsite presence and, as I've written previously, the best practice is to verify the services at the demarc.

For the situation I recently encountered, my theory is that vendors capitulated to work-arounds in attempts to fix network connections that weren't meant to work. Mix in a messy M&A, and inherited resources, and the problem grew. Here's what I discovered:

  • Bonded T1s contracted with a carrier now gone from the scene led to an on-premises IP-PBX sending traffic out a voice path but not receiving traffic from numerous branch offices across a different connection
  • Sparse programming remnants on premises hardware (switches, router, firewall) show evidence of attempts to set up virtual LANs
  • A session border controller sitting between the spans and the firewall lacked adequate licensing for "simultaneous calls"
  • Misconfigured firewall failover and load balancing, with a surplus of bandwidth compounding the problems (even though that bandwidth was probably meant to be a solution)
  • Numerous off-the-shelf switches sat between hardware, apparently implemented as "Band-Aids"

Interestingly, I also found "MPLS" tagged on the smart jacks and the gears' programmed ports, as well as within a contractual reference. And that leaves me wondering about the softswitch destination of the SIP traffic to a carrier location at a data center. While no MPLS network was actually in place, the idea of separating voice and data traffic came into reality because the involved parties (IT, IT subcontractor, PBX vendor, PBX subcontractor, and three carriers) abandoned attempts at properly routing traffic through the network . They simply couldn't figure out a proper configuration.

These discoveries stemmed from complaints such as "voice never works right" for the satellite offices and that users experience "cut-offs and strange noises." The other complaints were the slowness of applications and, for a firm engaged in processes that must be turned around with a sense of urgency and oversight (compliance), the network in hand just didn't lend itself to repair.

The deeper you have to go on an assessment is usually indicative of more problems -- and that was the case here. Lack of consistency and shoddy work in cabling, power, housekeeping, programming, and installation all circled back to core problems and vendors that weren't qualified to do the work. With no clear plan or a network design laid out, this company was not able to carry out its core mission without daily disruption.

Follow Matt Brunk on Twitter and Google+!
@telecomworx
Matt Brunk on Google+





COMMENTS



April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.