If you have implemented VoIP as part of your unified communication strategy, at some point in time you will be asked to troubleshoot call quality problems. When issues do arise with call quality you will need more than just technology you need to collaborate with all your teams and get the information you need to solve the problem. Below are 10 actions you can use to help get to the problem quickly.
1. Sometimes, You Need to get Creative
While AppManager for VoIP can prove invaluable for receiving alerts and getting a large amount of data from various sources (e.g. call managers, network devices, simulated calls, call detail records), there will be times when you will need to do a packet capture or do a lot of SNMP-walking and testing. Products like Network Instruments Observer should be part of your tool kit to understand what’s happening at the packet or communication protocol level.
2. Collaborate with your Teams
When diagnosing a problem different teams often do not talk to each other, the infrastructure team may not be talking to the application team. To diagnose a VoIP call you may need to investigate and ask questions of administrators in different areas. One tool will never tell you everything that’s happening in the environment so getting additional information from other people and other tools, will help you solve the problem faster
3. Get Technical!
Traversing packets and understanding codecs, RTP streams, routing, and protocols will be necessary to understand what’s going on. Don’t get overwhelmed; just remember to get to the root of the issue, it will typically involve some healthy technical banter, analysis, and study.
4. Look at the Call Routes
IP Networks allow each packet to independently find the most efficient path to the intended destination. The inbound and outbound path the call takes may be different using different devices along the way. Monitoring the appropriate streams of data and what direction they are travelling will help you understand where data goes or where it comes from.
5. Do your own Correlation
Take a look at the timestamps of events. Correlate those to when other alerts are happening. What time are network changes being made, do those happen around the same time that issues arise. You will need to correlate this information appropriately if you want to get on the right track. Look at the events from just one device does not help, you need to keep an eye on the big picture and see what’s alerting across the board.
6. Investigate all Parties
Is there a WAN outsourced to a carrier? Is there a 3rd party system integrator who manages a portion of the network? You need to understand how other parties affect your task. Often we do not have access to the cloud which is where you think the problem is, you are going to have to find help from someone who has the right access to the information you need
7. Re-create the Problem
Are there any patterns to the call issues you are experiencing? Do they happen at certain time (other than when the network is just generally busy)? Do they happen over specific networks or links? The better you can consistently re-create the issue, the better you are at determining where the problem may lie as there are less unknowns.
8. Triple-Check QoS
QoS is one of the most important issues to check on a large network. A minor mis-configuration with QoS will cause problems in many areas. You need a way to check the configuration and get proof the configuration is the way it is suppose to be. By using VoIP Quality endpoint you can run simulated calls to see what is going on.
9. Do not make any Assumptions
Just because someone says they have configured a device doesn’t necessarily provide the confidence that it really is configured the way you need it to be. Getting proof of network configuration or call manager configuration will be tricky but is vital. Many people may be involved in the management in all these devices and sometimes the processes are simply not in place for proper change management that allows for proper execution of changes. Automating the process of Configuration and Change management will allow you to stay on top of any changes in the Network.
Gain Support, Not Frustration!
When you approach other members of your team it is easy for them to feel like they are being blamed for the problem. You need to gain their support to help you solve the problem, or provide you with some details to you so that you can either fix the issue or focus elsewhere. This is more of a “soft” skill but can prove priceless when being pressured to find a resolution quickly.
When call quality issues need to be solved the right tools are critical in helping you solve the problem, the other part is member of your team and other departments that allow the call to flow over the network.
This article was adapted from NetIQ Qummity of which Telnet Network is a premier partner.