VoIP and Beyond with Alcatel-Lucent's VitalSuite

This company's VitalSuite monitors and manages all aspects of IP network operation and performance, including many specific measures of VoIP quality.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Nov 6, 2008
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Alcatel-Lucent Inc., with corporate headquarters in Paris, and U.S. headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey, may well be the technology company with the richest history.

Alcatel's origins date back to 1898 when French engineer Pierre Azaria set up "La Compagnie Générale d'Electricité (CGE)." CGE was a French-based industrial conglomerate involved in various activities such as electricity, transportation, electronics, and telecommunications.

Lucent Technologies' history dates back to 1869 when Elisha Gray and Enos N. Barton formed a small manufacturing firm based in Cleveland. Three years later the firm was renamed the Western Electric Manufacturing Company. By 1880, it was the largest electrical manufacturing company in the United States, noted for its production of a variety of electrical equipment, including the world's first commercial typewriters and telegraph equipment.

The divestiture of the Bell System in 1984 put the Western Electric manufacturing and the Bell Laboratories research and development activities under the AT&T Technologies business unit, which later spun off a separate entity, Lucent Technologies, in 1996.

In 2006, a transatlantic merger combined these two entities, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies, into a single firm. Today, Alcatel-Lucent has 77,000 employees, a presence in 130 countries around the world, over 25,000 active patents, and claims annual revenues of 17.8 billion euros (approximately $24 billion at this writing).

Alcatel-Lucent offers a complete family of voice and data networking solutions, data security products and network management tools, called the Dynamic Communication Framework, that delivers connected knowledge through a combination of software, hardware, service, consulting, and partnering. This portfolio draws on over 650 products to tailor solutions to an enterprise. The company's strategy recognizes that a successful VoIP deployment means integrating the network, applications, and business processes, so that the entire system works together to deliver high quality, reliable voice service.

Supporting VoIP networking infrastructures is the VitalSuite Network and Application Performance Management software, which provides visibility into, and control over, the entire infrastructure, to enable IT to implement and troubleshoot a VoIP network.

The VitalSuite system is comprised of three component applications called VitalNet for infrastructure monitoring, VitalApps for application performance monitoring, and VitalART for custom report development. Together, this suite offers a comprehensive, fully integrated solution that provides real-time views into everything from VoIP to complex e-commerce transactions to mission-critical network resources, from a system that enables continuous monitoring, measuring, and optimizing of performance at every level of an IT operation.

VitalSuite provides multi-vendor, multi-technology compatibility that supports and monitors over 600 devices from more than 50 different vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Avaya, and Broadsoft. The system focuses its operations on several network management functions:

  • VoIP Service Management, a personalized web portal that monitors the quality of services that are being delivered, and network "heat charts," that immediately identify network trouble spots, based upon specific Quality Index settings. Key performance indicators tracked include: Mean Opinion Score (MOS) and R-factor scores by hour; VoIP call quality index by hour; jitter, latency, delay, and packet loss quality index by hour; call success quality index by hour; plus calls and call minutes by hour.
  • VoIP Network Performance, which provides aggregated call statistics for a range of views that baseline call volume and voice service metrics. This capability includes a flexible auto-discovery function to import a device information file, specify a list of devices, and initiate controlled device discovery. The performance data are then stored in a relational database management system, allowing SQL access. Details are presented with both statistical and graphical displays.
  • Voice Quality vs. Network Performance, which integrates call and data monitoring into a common platform, with voice and data comparison reports that indicate the impact of network performance on voice quality. Available metrics include: Voice Quality Index vs. Network Quality Index, VoIP Quality vs. Network Utilization, VoIP Call Success vs. Network Utilization, VoIP QoS vs. Network Utilization, and VoIP Traffic Volume vs. Network Volume.
  • Voice Call Quality, which provides five levels of quality thresholds, including thresholds for jitter, delay, and packet loss.
  • VoIP Agent, a software probe that provides active, peer-to-peer testing for VoIP service quality measurements. The probes use SIP to set up VoIP test calls, and then generate RTP streams corresponding to each successful call. Customizable key performance indicators include speech clarity, conversational quality, and call setup metrics.

The VitalSuite system runs under Windows or Solaris environments, and can scale to support up to 10 million polled objects. Further details on the Alcatel-Lucent architecture and products can be found at www.alcatel-lucent.com/us. 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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