Huntsville, Alabama-based ADTRAN Inc. earlier this week announced the release of a new version of n-Command, its remote VoIP network management product—now scaled for very large deployments—up to and including large enterprises, VARs, ISPs, and managed service providers.
In an interesting twist, whereas it was billed as an “optional network productivity package” for ADTRAN’s NetVanta and other multi-service server/appliances, the new version, n-Command MSP, comes with a NetVanta Server 450, included in the $8005 price.
In any case, the n-Command MSP platform is designed to handle a number of network management tasks:
- Monitor, view, and report current and historical VoIP performance metrics
- Perform asset inventory and tracking
- Automate individual or network-wide firmware upgrades and configuration backups
- Monitor and report on the overall health of the network—and in the case of MSPs do that on a per-customer basis.
The key to ADTRAN n-Command is the simplified, easy-to-use, browser-based graphical user interface and management dashboard, designed for point and click operation (see image), which let operators drill down for increasingly detailed information.
| n-Command interface
Click thumbnail to see larger image
“It’s all tabbed browsing,” said Jamie Britnell, product manager for n-Command. “You can track new variables simply by adding new columns to the chart. All information can be expanded and data can be exported in .csv files. You can nest filters or searches.”
n-Command Voice Quality Monitoring (VQM) tracks all the usual VoIP performance metrics—jitter, delay, and packet loss—for each and every call, and calculates a mean opinion score (MOS) for each call as well. n-Command consolidates and stores the VQM data for each device in the network.
Another ease-of-use feature is the n-Command’s SIP-friendly firewall. The often thorny problem of routing SIP messages and signaling through a firewall that uses network address translation (NAT) is circumvented in n-Command by ADTRAN’s ‘Auto Link’ feature, which lets each remote device on the network pre-schedule communication back to the n-Command MSP server. This provides security while facilitating communication across the firewall.
The system also helps service providers manage people by keeping track of jobs. “You can notify people within your own company, and you can notify the appropriate people at your customer company,” said Britnell.
“You can schedule updates to rollout over time, rather than pushing them out all at once. Since devices check in every six hours after they’re turned on, the times roll more or less randomly.
As mentioned above, pricing for n-Command MSP—including the NetVanta 450 hardware on which it runs, and one year of maintenance—starts at $8,995. The platform is available now.