EMC in VoIP Management Game

By Barbara Darrow | Aug 20, 2007 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/EMC-in-VoIP-Management-Game-3695276.htm

EMC is broadening its Voice over IP horizons with the release today of new performance tracking and reporting capabilities for VoIP devices.

EMC has licensed Integrated Research's Prognosis technology for use in its EMC Smarts VoIP Performance Manager and Performance Reporter products. Denver-based Integrated Research is a leader in VoIP management technology.

EMC's VoIP products are geared toward maintaining network availability, while the Prognosis add will detect and analyze causes of VoIP performance issues, such as providing metrics on jitter or latency.

Smarts VoIP Performance Manager and Smarts VoIP Performance Reporter provide information about phone calls, phone extensions, voice quality, availability of the telephone service and interconnections to telecommunications providers, according to the company.

In addition, they monitor call volumes, call quality, and route patterns to ensure service levels are being met and offer both real-time and historical performance and trend reporting.

The two new tools support Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Unified CallManager, as well as Avaya Communications Manager. Missing from that list is Microsoft Office Live Communications Server.

While the reporting and performance tools complement the Smarts systems management, they will also work with other systems management solutions, said Peter Charland, senior product manager of EMC.

These offerings, which range from about $25 to $35 per phone depending on configuration and volume, extend EMC's systems management portfolio. EMC bought Smarts almost three years ago for its real-time systems management know-how. A year later it bought nLayers for its application discovery and mapping expertise.

And while it's known primarily as a storage giant for its splashy buyout and spin-off of VMware, as well as its information lifecycle management push spearheaded by Documentum, EMC is not new to VoIP.

"We have VoIP Manager now, which monitors VoIP infrastructure around availability and VoIP media gateways, application services and IP telephony environment that are part of our current solution," said Charland. "We see those elements in the context of their networks. What we haven't done until now is close the loop around VoIP performance, not just from the network perspective but from the telephony perspective."

Analysts said EMC was wise to align itself with the Prognosis product, and they expect other vendors to jump onto the bandwagon to offer more end-to-end management and troubleshooting of networks, including their VoIP endpoints.

"None of the big systems management guys really handle VoIP. Thus far they've focused on other infrastructure," said Vanessa Alvarez, analyst with the Boston-based Yankee Group. "The Prognosis product goes right out to the phones and pulls metrics into the system."

Richard Ptak, managing partner with Ptak, Noel & Associates of Amherst, N.H., said EMC has stolen a lead with this licensing deal, although it is doubtful it will be exclusive.

"What's happened in the past is that solution providers have focused on the network and IT aspects of managing VoIP and not looked at integrating the telephony, voice management," Ptak said. "Now they're [starting to take] quality-of-service issues and correlate them with what's happening in the infrastructure. It's not that either aspect has not been looked at before, but that they haven't been looked at together."

EMC promises deep integration between Prognosis and other EMC tools, including its storage offerings.

The news comes at a time when many companies, including Microsoft and networking kingpin Cisco, have set their sites on -- unified communications." The idea here is to converge telephony, e-mail, instant messaging into an IP-based infrastructure. That means weaning corporate users off of aging -- but still very useful -- proprietary gear.

Most observers predict a unified communications showdown between Microsoft, with its PC software-based approach and Cisco, which rules in routers and network infrastructure. Legacy PBX providers like Avaya, also have a vested interest in this battle.

EMC may play a bit on both sides of the divide. Microsoft had previously licensed some SMARTS technology for use in Microsoft Operations Manager 2007 console.

While these vendors maintain that implementing VoIP is the way to go to cut equipment costs and add flexibility to telephony networks, it is not at all clear that corporate customers are chomping at the bit to rip-and-replace expensive, but tried-and-true PBXes, with less costly PC-based fare. Skeptics point out that the last thing any business person wants is having to reboot his or her phone.