Streamcore Focuses on Visibility and Efficiency

Healthy VoIP Nets Part LX: With its StreamGroomer devices, Streamcore helps organizations understand and optimize communications and applications over the WAN.

 By Mark A. Miller
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Streamcore, headquartered in Paris, France, is an established, privately held global provider of network visibility and dynamic performance control solutions to manage application and VoIP delivery over the WAN. The company was founded in 2003 by systems and networking experts from France Telecom, BT, Alcatel Lucent and Cisco. Since that time, Streamcore has raised over 25 million euros (approximately $33 million) in funding, demonstrating a clear endorsement of their solutions from the venture capital community. The founders developed Streamcore's solution to help businesses to understand what was happening on the network, controlling traffic to guarantee optimal traffic flows over the WAN at all times. Streamcore has grown to employ 50 employees worldwide, plus sales offices in the United States, France, Germany and the Middle East. The company claims over 250 enterprise and service provider customers have adopted their solutions to manage over 20,000 sites worldwide, including such notables as Brinks, L'Oreal, Merck, Philips and Volvo.

Figure 1Streamcore's solutions are designed to optimize the applications and communication delivery over the WAN in four distinct ways: improvements to the visibility and control of network operations; guarantees of the application and VoIP performance; more efficient use of WAN capacity; and simplification of operational processes to thus improve resource utilization. Their product line includes the StreamGroomer, a traffic management network appliance, and the StreamGroomer Manager, a centralized management tool for administration of all features including provisioning, real-time monitoring, reporting and control. Both of these products are delivered pre-installed on appliances (19-inch rack-mounted units), and can be configured to support networks of varying sizes.

Figure 2StreamGroomers are positioned between the LAN and WAN access router (either inline or on a tapping device/mirrored port), managed through a dedicated port, and then provide flow analysis and regulation according to the infrastructure and application rules established by the network administrator. These systems integrate transparently regardless of the architecture access, and can also support more complex architectures including IEEE 802.1Q VLANs. For high-availability architectures, dual StreamGroomers can be deployed, providing continuous service under any circumstance. Deploying StreamGroomers at the branch office offer advanced visibility of unified communications traffic, such as VoIP, video, instant messaging, and email. In addition, advanced quality of service (QoS) mechanisms also reserve bandwidth for VoIP traffic to automatically prioritize and guarantee performance of real time applications. Five different models of StreamGroomers have been developed, supporting remote offices, PoP and branch offices, or central sites, supporting from 3,000 to 500,000 TCP sessions, and 400 to 25,000 bidirectional rules.

Figure 3The StreamGroomer Manager is an all-in-one device for the centralized management of StreamCore solutions, and automatically collects statistics that are measured by the StreamGroomers. The centralized management applications are accessible from any PC through a Web interface, and provide for extensive configuration and operational control. The applications include: StreamView, for configuration, real-time and long-term visibility; StreamReport, for PDF-, HTML-, CSV- and XML-based reports; StreamDashboard, which allows customized user dashboards, and StreamAccess, for access rights management.

The system provides a wide range of network information, including the traffic load on a particular access link (see Figure 1); historical Mean Opinion Score (MOS) results on that link (see Figure 2); statistical distribution of the application traffic on the WAN (see Figure 3); plus details of network alarms (see Figure 4). Measurements are available per site or even per communication, to assist with impact analysis of new VoIP deployments. In addition to the real-time monitoring, the system stores historical data for up to two years. This information can be used for capacity planning to track VoIP call activity, call volume, call quality, failures, link utilization and more.

Figure 4StreamCore systems can also be integrated with third-party solutions, and include the capabilities for alarm generation via SNMP Trap messages, cooperation with QoS operators through read/write functions for the Type of Service (ToS) indicators, and the ability to export Cisco NetFlow information.

Further details on the Streamcore architecture and products can be found here. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.

Article ©2009 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.

This article was originally published on Jan 22, 2009
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