Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: NetQoS

NetQoS, Inc., headquartered in Austin, Texas, is an established, privately held
network performance management company whose software and services help service
providers, government agencies, and large enterprises-including half of the Fortune
100-to improve the delivery of applications over wide area networks.

The company was founded to provide better ways of monitoring and improving the
delivery of these applications, and to develop solutions that could scale to support very
large networking infrastructures.

Unlike the traditional fault-based network management approaches, NetQoS takes a
performance-first approach to managing network infrastructures, including systems
that provide for end-to-end performance monitoring, traffic analysis, device performance
management, IT cost accounting, and retrospective network analysis.

NetQoS was founded in 1999, and has 230 employees worldwide that support research and
development centers in Austin and Raleigh, North Carolina, and regional sales offices in
London and Singapore. Representative NetQoS customers include American Express, Barclays
Global Investors, Boeing, Chevron, Deutsche Telekom, Hilton Hotels, Lockheed Martin,
NASA, and Siemens.

The NetQoS Performance Center product suite is a complete network performance
monitoring and management solution with a single web console that provides a top-down
view of all applications-data, voice and video-that are running on the network
infrastructure. The solution quantifies network infrastructure performance, including
end-to-end response times, traffic analysis, device performance monitoring, and VoIP
performance management. With this comprehensive data, IT personnel in large, complex
networks can isolate and troubleshoot problems more quickly and efficiently, analyze and
plan for the impact of change, and monitor and manage application delivery.

The console provides access to four key product solutions: the NetQoS
SuperAgent,
for end-to-end performance monitoring; the NetQoS VoIP Monitor,
for VoIP network performance monitoring; the NetQoS ReporterAnalyzer, for traffic
analysis; and the NetQoS NetVoyant, for device performance management.

NetQoS VoIP Monitor is a network-based call-setup- and call-quality-monitoring
solution that generates data about the network impairments that are affecting the Quality
of User Experience. This solution unites VoIP quality of service with network
performance, to provide metrics for end-user quality of experience and facilitate
targeted troubleshooting.

VoIP Monitor provides insight into two of the most important components of VoIP
quality: call setup operations (such as time to dial tone and post-dial delay) and audio
quality (the Mean Opinion Score, or MOS), and underlying network
impairments. By tracking end user call quality, providing alerts on call performance
issues, and isolating the cause of VoIP problems to the network source, VoIP Monitor
helps organizations improve performance through faster troubleshooting. This includes
graphical displays of the call quality and MOS, call quality trends, call performance by
location, and call performance by gateway (see Figure
1
).

The product also lets network engineers and IP telephony management assess the
performance of their Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CallManager) IP PBX by
tracking, evaluating, and reporting on key metrics without deploying server agents or
probes. For every call, VoIP Monitor reports on user call quality and the underlying
network performance metrics associated with it. VoIP Monitor also breaks out performance
data from the IP and PSTN legs of calls that pass through voice gateways traveling to
endpoints in the PSTN. This data lets IT organizations know if the network is responsible
for less-than-optimal call quality.

VoIP Monitor operates by performing passive, or “agentless,” monitoring of traffic
passing through a switch. By passively observing the headers of VoIP-related packets as
they pass from the network into the CallManager cluster and out again, it can measure
network delay, server response time, jitter, and other key network metrics. From that
data, it automatically discovers the servers, voice gateways, and IP telephones that are
running on a network, calculates VoIP call setup performance based on packet header
information, and uses thresholds to detect performance exceptions.

VoIP Monitor version 1.1 includes automatic and on-demand problem
investigation,
such that when a performance threshold is exceeded, the system can
automatically initiate an investigation into the source of the problem, tracing the call
signaling path and comparing it to a baseline; capacity planning reports, which
provide reports for tracking call activity, including information about call volume, call
quality, call failures, grade of service, and gateway utilization; plus support for
Cisco SIP phones
using the SIP call setup protocol.

Further details on the NetQoS architecture and products can be found at www.netqos.com.Our next
tutorial will continue our examination of vendors’ network management architectures.

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