Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: Agilent Technologies

Agilent Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California,
provides bio-analytical and electronic measurement solutions to the
communications, electronics, life sciences, and chemical analysis
industries.

Agilent, which was spun off from the Hewlett-Packard Company, broke records
for its 1999 Initial Public Offering, raising $2.1 billion in the largest IPO
in Silicon Valley history. It operates in two business segments, Electronic
Measurement and Bio-analytical Measurement.

The Electronic Measurement Group (EMG) provides standard and customized
electronic measurement instruments and systems; monitoring, management, and
optimization tools for communications networks and services; and software
design tools and related services that are used in the design, development,
manufacture, installation, deployment, and operation of electronics equipment
and communications networks and services.

This segment markets its products and services primarily to contract
manufacturers, handset manufacturers, network equipment manufacturers, and
communications service providers. The company sells its products through direct
sales, distributors, resellers, manufacturer’s representatives, telesales, and
electronic commerce.

With a 60-plus-year history of invention and innovation, Agilent claims to
have customers in over 110 countries, and to generate over 60 percent of its
revenues outside of the United States. The company’s 19,100 employees posted
net revenue of $5.4 Billion in 2007.

Agilent has developed many systems to support telecommunications networks
and converged environments, including protocol analyzers, network management
systems based on the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and network
monitors, supporting wireline, wireless and VoIP networks.

Agilent’s monitoring and management solution for VoIP systems is called the
NgN Analysis System. It supports VoIP, Push to Talk over Cellular
(PTToC) and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) networks. The system is designed to
improve network connectivity, quality of service, reliability, and customer
satisfaction, while lowering network operational costs.

Agilient considers the NgN Analysis System to be a carrier-class product
that delivers a comprehensive view of the signaling systems deployed in either
circuit-switched networks, using Signaling System 7 (SS7), or within VoIP
networks. It supports a large number of legacy and converged networking
protocols, including SS7, Sigtran, SIP, the Media Gateway Control Protocol
(MGCP), Megaco/H.248, H.323, and Q.931. In addition, the system supports
vendor-specific protocols including Nortel’s ASPEN and Cisco Systems’ CAS and
Q.931/RUDP. Wireless protocols, including CDMA SIP Push to Talk, Mobile IP
version 4, and Radius 3G are also supported.

The NgN Analysis System can tap the signaling information at a number of key
network points–including access gateways, trunk gateways, and signaling
gateways–within legacy networks, as well as media gateway controllers,
softswitches, gatekeepers, and SIP proxies within converged networks.

This flexibility with connections allows the system to address four key
types of VoIP and IMS network issues, including Configuration and
Provisioning Issues,
such as mis-provisioned networks, dial plan problems,
or insufficient capacity; Call Setup Issues, including PSTN/IP network
interworking, protocol interworking, or system availability; Call Quality
Issues,
such as voice quality; and Service Quality Issues, including
network availability and performance, as measured from the customer’s
perspective–such as dropped calls or mis-provisioned subscriber features.

One of the interesting capabilities of the system is its End-to-End
Network Wide Signaling View,
which can trace a call from a switch and then
subsequently to a gateway, gateway controller, proxy server, and signaling
interface, to the end subscriber gateway. This feature provides a visual
description of the call flow, with information on every call that is monitored,
including both calls in progress and calls that have been already
terminated.

The signaling messages associated with these calls are then correlated and
stored in a Call Flow Record, or CFR, which includes addressing and routing
information, quality metrics such as delay and jitter, plus response codes.

Once an individual CFR has been selected within the system, it can be
displayed and analyzed, including filters that can isolate particular calls for
further analysis, such as calls associated with a specific called or calling
number, IP address, or start and release time. The system also generates a
Service Measurement Record, or SMR, for each call, which contains performance
and quality of service measurements. This data can be aggregated by the service
provider by customer, by network element, or by service, thus supporting
service level agreements (SLAs), network performance management functions, and
network planning operations.

A QoS Manage that is incorporated into the system is designed to
provide a snapshot of the quality delivered from the service perspective, and
can assist with the automated management of service level agreements. This
feature can analyze service records by customer, network, or network element,
and then automatically generate alarms when the network does not meet baseline
performance thresholds. These alarms can be communicated via pager alerts,
e-mails, or through SNMP trap messages that are subsequently sent to a
centralized alarm management center.

Further details on the Agilent architecture and products can be found at
www.aglient.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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