Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: Brix Networks
Brix Networks, headquartered in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is a global provider of converged service assurance solutions that allow the world's largest carriers, service providers, cable companies, and enterprises to offer reliable and high-quality experiences in voice (VoIP), video (IPTV; video-on-demand), data (Internet), and mobile services to their customers, partners, and employees.
Brix was founded in July 1999, is backed by a number of venture capital firms, and brings a proven heritage of IP expertise unique to the service assurance marketplace. The company's objective is to assure the delivery of any IP-based service, over any network, to any endpoint, all from the same extensible platform.
Brix Networks' architecture—a seamlessly integrated hardware and software solution—is called the the Brix System—a strategic service assurance offering that proactively monitors IP service and application quality.
The system provides performance and/or QoS monitoring, embedded agents and probes, plus traffic simulation and/or network stress testing capabilities. The Brix System delivers end-to-end quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) visibility and real-time IP service monitoring. Built on a distributed architecture, the Brix System is designed to ensure the successful launch and ongoing operation of all types of IP-based voice, video, and data applications and services across wireline and wireless networks.
The Brix System architecture consists of several key elements.
BrixWorx is a service-assurance correlation and analysis software engine. This element conducts network and IP service testing and monitoring, then collects and stores essential data. In addition, this part correlates large volumes of operational and performance metrics that have been collected across the network, and then analyzes that information and presents it to the user. In addition, key performance indicators (called KPIs) and key quality indicators (called KQIs), such as quality scores, network latency, packet loss, jitter, and so on, can be established that define service-specific thresholds that live traffic is then compared against.
Three modular applications for BrixWorx are also available that support specific monitoring scenarios.
BrixCall supports VoIP services, and enables service visibility into enterprise networks, residential customers, and peering partners, to ensure that service level agreements (SLAs) and Quality of Experience (QoE) expectations are met. The BrixCall module features what the company calls their Tri-Q Analysis, which measures the impact on three key elements that contribute to end-to-end VoIP network performance—signaling quality, delivery quality and call quality. An example BrixCall analysis is shown in Figure 1.
BrixVision is a comprehensive IP video quality and performance management module, which is designed for IPTV services. This element supports the complete service deployment lifecycle by combining active testing with passive service monitoring, thus striving to optimize the subscriber's quality of experience (QoE). BrixVision lets network managers continually monitor video content quality, channel change response times, and video function delays—plus obtain key usage statistics that are required. This module also enables service monitoring to determine if network and infrastructure impairments are occurring at the national, regional, or local content aggregation and distribution locations, or at the subscribers homes.
The BrixNGN module is designed for next generation network analysis, and lets providers continuously collect, correlate, analyze, and visualize critical QoS and QoE information along the path from the network core to the customer endpoint. These functions support capacity planning and service turn-up verification, and identify network and service issues before they can have an impact on the customer base. BrixNGN performs continuous monitoring of the network core, extended Ethernet and IP networks, plus the data services, such as email, web-based applications, and file transfers. These functions are capable of supporting inter-carrier peering, wholesale backbone services, private line over Ethernet and VoIP backhaul configurations.
A number of monitoring sources are available that feed data to the BrixWorx engine.
Brix Verifiers are scalable appliances and software agents installed at key network locations to segment the network and localize problems. Different models are available for installation at customer locations, at the network edge, in high-speed locations, such as MPLS core networks, and within the PSTN or service provider networks. In addition, a number of third-party monitoring devices, from companies including Cisco Systems, Linksys, Motorola, and Texas Instruments can also be integrated into the Brix System.
Finally, BrixView is an advanced analytics software package, which is integrated with the BrixWorx correlation engine and presents the information in a visual format. The BrixView Dashboard is shown in Figure 2, with examples of BrixView historical reports illustrated in Figure 3.
Further details on the Brix Networks architecture and products can be found at http://brixnet.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.
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