Touchstone’s VoIP Monitoring Is an Affordable Performer

Touchstone Technologies, headquartered in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 30 minutes west of
Philadelphia, is an innovative provider of test and measurement solutions for voice and
video communications over IP networks. The company’s roots go back to a predecessor
company, Delta Protocol Test, from the 1980s.

Touchstone today provides both active and passive testing solutions ranging from SIP
load generators and feature/function testers to protocol analyzers and distributed
monitoring and diagnostic solutions for SLA reporting. Touchstone Technologies markets
their solutions to ‘tier one’ carriers, leading equipment manufacturers, defense
departments, and enterprises, including Alcatel Lucent, AT&T, Cisco, Ericsson, Global
Crossing, Intel, Qwest and the U.S. Department of Defense, to name a few.

Touchstone’s products fall into several broad categories, including: Call Generation,
IP Communications Monitoring, VoIP Analysis Tools and VoIP Utilities.

The Call Generation tools include WinSIP and WinH323. WinSIP is a
powerful software solution for testing SIP infrastructures, including the capabilities
for generating bulk calls, performing feature and function testing, and testing advanced
media capabilities (see Figure 1). WinSIP can provide high-density loads at
incredible rates without the need for any specialized equipment. Using this software, a
mid-tower PC can generate nearly 1,000 simultaneous calls with perfect G.711 audio
streams and nearly 2,000 with G.729. WinH323 has similar capabilities, but is targeted at
network engineers supporting IP telephony and videoconferencing systems using the H.323
protocol. WinH323 is capable of generating hundreds to thousands of simultaneous calls
with audio and video.

For call quality monitoring, Touchstone provides the Net Observer, a
carrier-class monitoring and diagnostics solution for voice and video over IP
communications. Net Observer consists of software probes located at or near the customer
premises and one or more aggregators that are typically located in the service provider’s
network operations center (NOC).

Net Observer provides more than 125 metrics for every call and reports call detail
records in real time. The detail records are stored in a SQL database, allowing the
results to be integrated into existing reporting systems through flat files, SNMP-based
network management systems, or the RADIUS protocol. The software probes can scale in
capacity from 4 to more than 1,000 calls.

Protocol and media analysis is accomplished using the company’s WinEyeQ
product, a voice and video monitoring and analysis engine that includes extensive watch
and alarming mechanisms. The software runs on a standard PC and has the ability to
analyze data streams containing simultaneous calls with audio and video, with capacities
for up to 400 calls with G.711 media, 1,000 calls with G.729 media, 7,500 signaling-only
calls, and 25,000 packets per second. Packets that are captured can be analyzed and
displayed on the screen or saved for subsequent analysis.

WinEyeQ provides three key functions. The voice and video analysis capabilities
allow the testing of both individual call metrics and key performance indicators (see
Figure 2)
. Second, the monitoring functions allow
the product to be used for both analysis and distributed call monitoring, functioning as
a probe within the Net Observer system (see Figure 3). Third, the diagnostics functions that
include alerts, alarms and watches, allow the system to isolate calls and send
notifications via SNMP when problems arise (see Figure 4).

Lastly, the TraceBuster series of utilities offer a protocol and media analysis
tool built on the WinEyeQ analysis engine. Three different versions are available: a free
utility that can be downloaded from the company’s website; the TraceBuster Pro
that includes media analysis; and the TraceBuster QoS that includes Telchemy’s VQMon engine.

The breadth of the Touchstone product line-coupled with the fact that they are 100
percent software-based solutions, making their price/performance appealing-yield a suite
of network management applications that are worthy of consideration. And Touchstone makes
that product evaluation even easier by offering demonstration versions of the WinSIP,
WinEyeQ and Win323 products available for free download from their website.

Further details on the Touchstone Technologies architecture and products can be found
at www.touchstone-inc.com. Our next tutorial will continue our
examination of vendors’ network management architectures.

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