Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: Fluke Networks

Fluke Networks, headquartered in Everett, Washington, serves three main customer segments:

  • The first is datacom installers, who are responsible for the installation and certification of both copper and fiber networks, and the ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting of these networks.
  • The second segment is enterprise managers, who are concerned with the performance of the network, enabling the delivery of superior IT services to the business by maximizing the operation, and by extension, the value, of the infrastructure.
  • The third segment is the communications service providers, where the company provides the telecom/outside plant market with solutions for qualifying copper lines and implementing process improvement solutions.

Originally a business unit within Fluke Corporation (a $1 billion electrical test company), Fluke Networks was spun off as a separate entity in 2000, with annual sales of more than $300 million. The company has over 700 associates worldwide, and distributes its products in more than 50 countries.

The breadth of the company’s networking testing and management history is evident with their VoIP solutions, which cover the full range of requirements of VoIP visibility, from the network edge to the core. These solutions enable successful VoIP implementations by providing critical visibility for pre-deployment assessment of both physical requirements, baseline requirements, and networking issues In addition, the solutions provide post-deployment management and troubleshooting to proactively monitor VoIP performance—and if issues arise, identify, isolate, and resolve the performance problems.

Fluke Network’s flagship solution for VoIP network management is the Visual Performance Manager, a unified system designed to address the requirements for end-to-end performance and user quality of experience with applications, VoIP communications, and network performance across a distributed enterprise.

The system correlates data from multiple sources, and integrates with other web-based management systems and troubleshooting products. These include support for both the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and/or Remote Monitoring (RMON)-based polling; protocol and packet-level analysis, and the monitoring of all packets and flows for voice, video and data.

The system also provides for performance and QoS monitoring, with call details including metrics such as MOS, R factor, packet-loss, latency, and availability. The Visual Performance Manager provides the options of either deploying a probe/appliance to monitor actual traffic patterns or leveraging the existing infrastructure with a flow-based view of performance, and can also leverage traffic simulation through discrete appliances to measure the impact of the stress testing for both the voice application as well as the impact on existing applications on the converged environment.

Virtual Performance Manager
Figure 1.

As illustrated in figure 1, the Visual Performance Manager collects information from a number of sources, presenting the data in straightforward, visual form. Clicking on the red portion of the VoIP call shown above allows the user to rapidly identify, isolate, and troubleshoot cause of this poor quality call.

Fluke Networks has also developed a number of additional network management solutions that can also benefit VoIP managers:

  • Visual UpTime Select integrates the analysis of application performance with network performance, and monitors voice and data applications across an enterprise’s infrastructure.
  • The OptiView Link Analyzer and Protocol Expert provides for real time VoIP monitoring, diagnostics and QoS analysis, providing scores for each channel and each call in real time.
  • The OptiView Integrated Network Analyzer is a portable analyzer for LAN, WAN, VoIP, and WLAN analysis, monitoring and troubleshooting, and includes support for the H.323, SIP, MGCP and SCCP VoIP protocols.
  • The NetTool Series II Inline Network Tester is used to verify, isolate and document network connectivity and application port response problems.
  • The Cable IQ Qualification Tester quickly reveals whether a link, including patch cords, is qualified for voice, 10/100BASE-T, VoIP, or Gigabit Ethernet service.

Fluke Networks offers a unique mix of portable and distributed hardware and software solutions that provides edge-to-core visibility—from the phone that initiates the call, to the LAN and VLAN components, to the WAN core that routes the traffic between multiple locations all the way to receiving phone—giving network managers complete network visibility.

In addition, they are strong in both the both pre-deployment assessment analysis, and post-deployment management functionality, thus helping net managers understand the impact of voice on their unique combination of voice, video, and data applications, and build requirements to ensure the quality of critical application performance.

Further details on the Fluke Networks architecture and products can be found at 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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