As we enter early summer, it’s time to take a look back at IAUG, as well as the third consideration for a migration to SIP: what happens once you go live. Prior posts in this series focused on design and core technology decisions and up through the point of testing just prior to go live, so now let’s take a look at day two and beyond.
After having conversations with many people after my presentation at IAUG, in the exhibit hall, and during other parts of the event, the impression I got from almost everyone (myself included) was that this was a great event. There were about 50 people at my presentation, most of whom had deployed SIP trunking and the rest of which were looking to deploy SIP trunking within the next 12 months. In fact, only ONE person had deployed SIP out to the all of the endpoints as well as SIP trunking. For me this was not too big of a shock based on the topic we were discussing, but it did reenforce the notion that, while we have been talking about SIP for a long time in the enterprise, we are only now finally starting to do something with it instead of just discussing it.
In my presentation, I discussed pre-deployment considerations, but also what to do after SIP has been deployed. That is the point when it’s time to consider surveillance of the solution, so you can understand how the SIP based solution is being used by the user community and also how well its performing from a quality of experience perspective. There are two different yet complementary approaches to take into consideration: active and passive monitoring techniques.
With an active approach, you leverage a solution that allows you to emulate a real user experience, for example, making a phone call between two endpoints and measuring the quality. Active solutions are deployed using software-based endpoints that can be centrally controlled to talk to one another, and only one another, so they do not disturb the user community. This is similar to what I discussed in pre-deployment testing, except instead of at scale, you are looking at placing periodic calls between key locations at scheduled intervals (maybe every five or ten minutes).
This technique gives you a heartbeat of how things are performing. If you see any deviation in connection time or voice quality metrics like MOS, packet loss, jitter, etc., you can further investigate what is causing the deviation, and whether it is a problem for a single instance or a gradual degradation or deviation of time. This provides you with insight into issues that might occur at certain times of day or volume levels. Often an active solution also allows for calls to be recorded so if you were to see degradation in the resulting metrics, a technician could listen to the call to understand the cause of the issue and possibly the type of degradation experienced.
The other technique used for monitoring is passive monitoring, where you look at all related voice traffic from a central location or a few key locations (maybe within the data centers) within the environment . This technique is used to look at all real user traffic, including both the call-related signaling and the media to understand the quality of experience of your actual end users. Using this technique, you can measure actual user experience for all calls and look for trends by location, internal vs. external calls, call volume or call duration. In some cases, passive monitoring tools can be used to help identify security threats like fraud and denial of service attacks.
The final thing to consider as you look to roll out your SIP deployment is what comes next. For instance, what are some of the other things that your company may look to add to this network to even further enhance the user experience and further push out new communication channels? How would video impact the not only the network, but the way people communicate with one another in your environment? In many cases, the largest barrier to video is not in the technology or network itself but in the human aspect. Are your teams ready for video collaboration and if so, how will it be used – for all communication or mainly for larger meetings? If it is used, can you follow similar steps laid out as a methodology in this series to roll out video and manage the impact voice and video have on one another? And of course there are other trends that you should consider such as BYOD, HD voice and video, and HyperVoice for conference calling and collaboration.