Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: RADCOM

Part 23: RADCOM's tools continually monitor all network traffic, giving complete visibility into VoIP services running on the network.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted May 9, 2008
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RADCOM, Ltd., headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, is a member of the RAD Group, 15 independent networking and telecommunications companies that develop, manufacture and market solutions for diverse segments of the networking and telecommunications industry.

RAD Group companies operate independently, without a holding company, but are guided by RAD Group founders under a collective strategic umbrella. Companies may cooperate in the development of their solutions, engage in joint marketing activities, and benefit from a common management structure.

RADCOM, established in 1996, is a developer of network test and service monitoring solutions for data communications and telecommunications networks. The company's organizational network includes over 70 distributors in 50 countries worldwide and nine manufacturer's representatives across North America.

RADCOM first made its mark in the industry as a leading protocol analyzer vendor with extensive in-house core competencies in protocol stacks and decoding. The company also had an innovative chipset and hardware design dedicated to the unique requirements of monitoring and analysis.

In 2001, RADCOM leveraged these core competencies in the shift the company made toward probe-based service monitoring solutions. RADCOM's products are deployed to facilitate the rollouts of next-generation (2.5G, 3G, and 3.5G) cellular networks, IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Voice over IP, and IPTV technologies.

RADCOM's VoIP monitoring solution addresses the many challenges of massive deployment of VoIP technologies and services and the monitoring of voice quality. VoIP and NGN networks are fairly complex, often involving network elements from multiple vendors, technologies, and protocols across multiple clouds. As a result, delivering voice services in such an environment is challenging: Customers expect a very high grade of service; it's not sufficient to just have the technology work, as was often the case in the earlier years of VoIP.

RADCOM's Omni-Q solution is used for network-wide service monitoring, which is a relatively new field. The concepts of service monitoring frequently include the traditional elements of fault and performance management.

The objective of this discipline is to provide a new paradigm that makes service providers better able to manage services on their network. The system continuously collects, monitors, and analyzes the signaling, voice, and data traffic flowing on the network. This gives service providers, ILECs, and cable/MSOs complete visibility into the VoIP service running over the network, enabling early-stage fault detection, pre-emptive maintenance and optimization, and drill-down troubleshooting that leads to quick and easy fault resolution.

Thus, the Omni-Q solution lets operators finally really see what their network is doing, providing the entire user experience in both the signaling and media planes, and further providing a correlation across the PSTN/SS7 domain and the VoIP/NGN domains.

The eyes and ears of this architecture are the probes, small hardware devices or embedded software routines that are placed at strategic points in the network, and act as the eyes and ears of the human network manager. These probes extract network performance and service delivery metrics across multiple dimensions, and have the further ability to break that information down by network element, letting the operator know which elements are performing better or worse.

The probes are centrally managed by the Central Management Module, and are remotely accessed by the Qconsole software, which can be installed on any PC or laptop. All collected parameters are stored in an Oracle database for use by the Qexpert web-based analysis and reporting tool.

The Omni-Q product line supports multiple network architectures, including circuit-switched and packet-switched domains, cellular, IPTV, VoIP, and any of the numerous next-generation network implementations including IMS.

RADCOM has developed a number of probes that provide specialized functions.

The VoIP Probe supports three levels of monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities. The first level includes detailed records of call performance analysis (jitter, packet loss, MOS, etc.) A second level records detailed session signaling information. And a third level can provide remote testing, saving the cost of send a field engineer to the location.

The iProbe is a packet switched active probe, which supports a wide variety of signaling protocols, including H.323 and SIP, and uses the Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality (PESQ) to provide an automated, MOS-based objective voice quality score.

The Cprobe provides end-to-end call quality measurements in the PSTN environment, and determines voice service quality based on a number of active test measurements including the line availability, quality degradation over time, and the quality of network trunks.

The UQAN (User Quality Assurance Node) are low-cost hardware- or software-based components that are deployed at the end-user premises and receive test calls from the active probes. Results are then stored in the Omni-Q database, and can also be used to generate alarms to the service provider's network operations center.

Further details on the RADCOM architecture and products can be found at http://radcom.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.


Author's Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E., is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

Article courtesy of Enterprise VoIP Planet, © 2008 DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved

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