Healthy VoIP Nets�Part L�Network Management Architectures: Ipswitch

Ipswitch, Inc., headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, develops and markets software products and services for businesses worldwide. The company began in 1991, with its founder’s roots going back to the days of the former FTP Software, a firm that pioneered TCP/IP workstation software for personal computers.

The company claims that over 100 million people worldwide use Ipswitch software to monitor their networks with WhatsUp Gold, transfer files over the Internet using WS_FTP and MOVEit, and communicate via IMail Server.

The company currently has 175 employees, and research and development centers in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia. Its products are sold directly to end users, via its online shop, and through distributors, resellers and OEMs in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. The company also has a unique commitment to community involvement, as it donates 5 percent of its profits to a variety of community investment programs, community service, and philanthropy.

Ipswitch’s network management platform is named WhatsUP Gold, which the company claims manages over 70,000 networks worldwide. The product is available in four different editions: Premium, Distributed, Standard and MSP.

WhatUpGold Premium Edition provides a network management and application monitoring solution for single networks of all sizes that installs, discovers, and maps network-connected assets in minutes. This product leverages SNMP v1-3 and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), to enable predictive monitoring in combination with powerful alerting and notification capabilities.

WhatsUpGold Distributed Edition is designed expressly for organizations with complex multi-site networks, extending the features of WhatsUp Gold Premium to provide secure connectivity between a central network operations center (NOC) and any number of remote sites, no matter where they are located.

WhatsUp Gold Standard Edition provides an inexpensive single network infrastructure monitoring solution for small and mid-sized businesses.

Finally, WhatsUp Gold MSP Edition provides a complete solution for managed service providers (MSPs) to monitor any number of customer networks from a single central NOC site, providing a complete picture of each customer network in separate and secure customized workspaces in real-time.

In addition to the four core products, Ipswitch has developed three plug-in modules to enhance the capabilities of its fundamental systems.

The NetFlow Monitor Module provides in-depth insight into how the network is performing by gathering, analyzing, and reporting on network traffic patterns and bandwidth utilization in real-time. It highlights the overall utilization for the LAN or WAN, as well as utilization for specific devices or interfaces, and also indicates users, applications, and protocols that are consuming abnormal amounts of bandwidth.

The WhatsConnected Module is a layer 2 and layer 3 network discovery and network mapping plug-in that depicts and visualizes device connectivity down to the individual port. This module locates all devices on the network, including critical device connectivity and interdependencies, and also provides a detailed hardware inventory and configuration information.

The VoIP Monitor Module is designed to monitor and report on the network’s capacity to support and maintain acceptable call quality for VoIP. The VoIP Monitor addresses three general areas: SNMP and WMI based management and monitoring, performance and QoS monitoring, and network mapping. The module accesses information generated by Cisco IP service level agreement (SLA)-enabled devices to monitor parameters essential to VoIP performance.

The VoIP Monitor leverages the data produced by IP SLA-configured source and single or multiple destinations, with active and performance SNMP monitors, to offer network managers the ability to establish measurement of VoIP-specific network metrics on either local networks or WAN links. These capabilities include monitoring particular parameters—including jitter, packet loss and latency—that provide insight into the capability of the network to support optimal VoIP performance.

The SNMP data is accessed via Cisco’s Round Trip Time Monitoring (RTTMON) Management Information Base (MIB), which then allows the VoIP Monitor to generate graphs and report jitter, latency and packet loss occurring in the network in real-time. By combining the information from the measurements and codec simulation data generated by IP SLA, the VoIP Monitor can also graph the calculated Mean Opinion Scores (MOS) and Capacity Planning Impairment Factor (or ICPIF, a Cisco IOS voice parameter), thus providing voice quality scoring for a live VoIP network.

The VoIP Monitor includes a number of key features for network monitoring, including: the measurement of round trip UDP jitter from source to destination and from destination to source, the measurement of round trip network latency from source to destination and from destination to source, and the measurement of round trip packet loss from source to destination and from destination to source (seeFigure 1).

The system can also display the calculated values provided by IP SLA, and also displays MOS and ICPIF scores in gauges (see Figure 2). Alerts can be triggered when the calculated values fall below the configured MOS parameter. In addition, a VoIP Configuration Wizard simplifies the setup of the performance monitors and workspace views, to accelerate the deployment of the network monitoring capabilities.

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

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2008 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved

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.

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