Surge In Mobile Workforce And Proliferation Of Smartphones Fueling Growth In Global UC Market

Unified CommunicationsConnected devices such as smartphones and tablets have changed the way work is done today – in the office and beyond. An ever-expanding mobile workforce has prompted enterprises to come up with friendly BOYD policies, boosting enterprise-wide collaboration and ultimately leading to better efficiency and improved bottom line. This has also contributed to the growth of unified communications market worldwide.

Unified Communications solutions are designed to unify voice, video, data, and mobile applications for collaboration. One recent report looking at recent market research by Grand View Research on the sector notes it is poised for enormous growth in the next few years.

According to the study, Unified Communications will be a $75.81 billion market in 2020. This new study on Global UC Market offers an analysis of the two segments of the market-products and applications. Products are divided into two categories On Premise, and Cloud-Bases/Hosted, while applications are divided into the categories of education, enterprises, government and healthcare.

The application segment will account for the largest share in the global UC market, the report predicted. The early adopters that have implemented UC solutions, have now come to reap benefits from their investments. UC solutions not only enable enterprises to improve operational efficiency, they also enable the companies to create better customer engagement. These are expected to encourage more and more organizations in healthcare, education and government to integrate their data, voice, video and other communication applications.

Organizations in the government sector in particular will increase their investments in UC implementation to support operational continuity, emergency response, as well as situational awareness. This in turn will necessitate the deployment of necessary IP infrastructure in support of unified communication.

Bring-your- own-device (BYOD) initiatives by large enterprises as well as SMB are going to be one of the major deciding factors in UC growth. The implementation of BYOD involves costly investments. Then interoperability across various unified communication platforms must be established for the successful implementation of BYOD. These two factors may impede market growth, the study pointed out.

Interestingly, hosted unified communications solutions are likely to overtake their on premise siblings in popularity. The reasons are obvious: the installation and maintenance costs associated with hosted solutions are lot cheaper than the premise-based UC solutions.

The global UC market involves a few major challenges, relating to investment and interoperability and exposure to security risk. The study predicts that these are not going to stop key vendors from battling against the challenges. With the UC space becoming increasingly competitive, vendors are likely to come up with new, innovative solutions to gain a competitive edge. For the companies that survive the obstacles and challenges, there awaits a strong payoff, the study concluded.

Thanks to Unifed Communications for the article.

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A Network Guide for Videoconferencing Rollout

The Biggest Videoconferencing Challenge?

Real-Time Performance Management

Did you know that according to Enterprise Management Associates EMA analysts, 95 percent of organizations have VoIP on their network- and more than half have deployed videoconferencing? IP videoconferencing has strong appeal to businesses through its promise of significant cost and time savings.

But how simple is the transition to video? For end users, video communications are expected to be smooth, seamless, and simple. For the network team, although there’s an expectation that video will be similar to VoIP, they need to be prepared for several challenges unique to video. This article explores key video requirements and monitoring strategies to ensure the technology meets end-user expectations.

Managing in Real Time

The primary challenge that differentiates videoconferencing performance management from other applications is the real-time nature of the service. Even minimal quality issues can be incredibly disruptive. As a result, every effort must be made to ensure the network is clean and ready to support live IP-communications sessions. This requires a concerted effort by the networ team to test, characterize, and pre-qualify the network as ready for videoconferencing. It also means finding ways to recognize problems as they happen. Efforts to identify and troubleshoot performance quality issues will also require the ability to reconstruct and study inicidents in detail.

QoS is a Necessity

A significant differnce between VoIP and videoconferencing is the amount of traffic generated. This means network Quality of Service (QoS) class definitions and bandwidth allocations must be reevaluated before deploying videconferencing.

Organizations often find that setting aside 10 percent of bandwidth for VoIP is sufficient, but to accommodate even moderate rates of concurrent videoconferencing sessions will require 30 percent or more. The potential negative implications go well beyond bandwidth consumption-providing latency-sensitive video traffic with increased precedence raises the likelihood of contention among other applications for remaining network resources.

“With Observer, not only can I look at QoS Layers 2 and 3 to see that packets are being tagged correctly, but I can also look into the protocol to understand how the application interprets the information”

-Everett McArthur, Enterprise Network Engineer, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

To see more, download white paper here

Retrospective Network Analysis from Network Instruments

While network complexity and bandwidth demands continue to increase, applications such as VoIP increase performance requirements. Now more than ever, network administrators require versatile monitoring and analysis tools to quickly troubleshoot business-critical operations and monitor security and compliance. In this environment, Retrospective Network Analysis (RNA) tools that let you go “back in time” to reconstruct a failure or attack can offer distinct advantages over analysis tools that only operate in real time.

Background

Retrospective network analysis (RNA) allows IT professionals to quickly browse backwards through massive amounts of network traffic. RNA allows network engineers to view breaches and anomalies exactly as they happened, within the context of other activity as it occurred on the network, thus sidestepping the often labor intensive step of trying to re-create problems to troubleshoot them. This requires that all network traffic (or some targeted subset) is efficiently captured and stored, in much the same way a convenience store might use a video security system.

The purpose of this paper is to explain how retrospective analysis functions and why it offers a significant time and cost savings over conventional real-time analysis.

State of the Industry

Paradoxically, improved hardware reliability has made the network engineer’s job more complex. Instead of finding and replacing obviously failed hardware, network engineers need to solve more and more intermittent (and subtle) problems. The continuing transformation of enterprise networks into complex webs comprising multiple technologies and topologies, with users from hourly employees to CEOs demanding flawless, department-specific functionality, makes the job of network managers increasingly difficult. Still, IT professionals continue to waste valuable time, energy, and resources gathering information in an attempt to replicate intermittent problems or enforce security and compliance regulations

The Concerns

With these growing demands come new concerns. According to a recent Network Instruments® survey:

  • Nearly 70 percent of IT administrators are concerned about the increased complexity of their networks
  • Nearly the same number expressed concern about an increasing volume of network traffic
  • Over half said their most common problem is a lack of information about network problems and their causes
  • 30 percent cited the inability to replicate user problems as a recurring network issue

How It Worksf

RNA acts like a TiVo® for the network, changing the way administrators conduct analysis.

Traditional real-time packet capture and analysis gives network administrators insight into their networks via packet-level protocol decode and analysis. While these tools are certainly useful when managing any mid- to enterprise-level network, using them to provide administrators with enough information to solve subtle or sporadic problems is an arduous task. What’s more, the ability to witness a compliance violation or security breach is limited to those lucky enough to be watching when it happens. RNA acts like a 24/7 surveillance camera —it is far easier to find the culprit using a stored video of the crime rather than just a photograph.

Netowork Instruments Gigastor

Appliances such as GigaStor are capable of storing terabytes of packet-level traffic collected from a variety of full-duplex network topologies, including WAN, LAN, Fibre Channel, wireless, gigabit, and 10 Gigabit (10 GbE). The appliance performs real-time Expert processing at the probe rather than transferring packet captures over the network to the console. The GigaStor has a 64-bit core and can capture up to 12 TB, or offload to a SAN for nearly unlimited storage.

But there is more to RNA than just capturing and storing the traffic. To truly be useful, the tool should make it easy to find the relevant connection or time period as quickly as possible, further improving troubleshooting efficiency. RNA for the enterprise should also provide IT staff with the drill-down detail necessary for isolating problems to particular protocols, applications, servers, and stations. They should be flexible enough to monitor any topology, including LAN, WAN, WLAN, gigabit, 10 GbE, and Fibre Channel. For true network forensic analysis, the ability to reconstruct files, web pages, images, e-mails, and IMs; and compare breaches to Snort rules, is indispensable.

Network Instruments Architecture

Case Study: Implementation

The Midwest healthcare provider decided to implement a series of multi-terabyte GigaStor appliances across their network, in conjunction with several Observer® Expert consoles, from which they hoped to manage VoIP, a wireless network with over one thousand access points, and other network applications.

Benefits

The benefits of employing an RNA solution are numerous and tangible:

  • Higher network availability
  • Improved ability to conduct business efficiently and effectively
  • Satisfied customers and employees
  • Ability to validate and provide evidence for compliance and security issues streamlines enforcement process

RNA can also be used for planning, rollout, and performance management stages for new applications such as VoIP, by taking advantage of monitoring and trending data to determine exactly how applications affect (or will affect) the network. Preliminary testing can save an enterprise the cost and headaches associated with a problematic application rollout.

Finally, the comprehensive functionality of RNA lets IT staff spend less time attempting to recreate problems and spend more time on proactive planning. In short, reduced downtime plus faster problem resolution equals a rapid return on investment.

Case Study: After Implementation

The Midwest healthcare provider has seen marked improvements and saved thousands of dollars in costs since implementing RNA solutions on its network. It routinely uses GigaStor to diagnose intermittent problems with its network, application performance, and infrastructure. On multiple occasions, it has been able to diagnose intermittent issues on critical servers, allowing IT staff to take action before problems impacted overall network performance.

Summary

Whereas traditional protocol analyzers have evolved over time, adding features and capabilities in a natural progression, RNA has proved a different type of innovation: it is a true paradigm shift in network monitoring, security, and analysis technology. Many organizations currently use RNA technology to provide better service and improved security to their customers and employees in a way that saves both time and money.

  • When considering the purchase of an RNA solution, look for products that provide the following features. Some vendors charge extra for additional functionality that is included in devices such as the GigaStor. Security forensics capability
  • Real-time analysis on the probe
  • VoIP analysis and call scoring
  • Stream or application reconstruction
  • Multi-user, multi-session access
  • Connection Dynamics
  • Nanosecond resolution
  • Seamless integration
  • Option to offload to SAN

Thanks to Network Instruments for the article.

StableNet® – Managing End-to-End VoIP Networks

Infosim StableNet Managing End-to-End VoIP Networks StableNet® is a unified End-to-End Service Quality Management platform and therefore, takes a customer-centric approach to the service assurance monitoring infrastructure, performance and fault management in a single solution.This White Paper provides details on how to engineer a complete End-to-End VoIP service monitoring and reporting solution with StableNet®.
There are any number of VoIP management solutions available in today’s market place. However, when you start to drill-­down into the capabilities of these tools they tend to focus on the performance elements of your network infrastructure and associated VoIP metrics (e.g. RTT, RTD\Latency, Packet Loss, Jitter, Moss, R-­Factor etc.) , assumptions are made on infrastructure and fault management being in place, so it is vitally important to assess the complete picture of your solution requirement before selecting the choice of tool to be deployed. VoIP monitoring lies central to this, as VoIP downtime and poor VoIP performance directly impacts such things as business performance, profitability and revenue. Achieving a consistent level of quality on VoIP calls requires multiple dependent components working properly, thus the importance of a monitoring system that correlates the infrastructure, performance, and fault management into an integrated End-­to-­End view is vital…….read more Infosim StableNet Managing End-to-End VoIP Networks

DOWNLOAD THE WHITE PAPER HERE

Thanks to Infosim for the article.

Setting VoIP Server Configuration

It’s important to have VoIP servers properly configured within your monitoring solution to correctly identify and display VoIP traffic and connections. If the server IP and type aren’t properly configured, it may be difficult to identify when calls were established (call setup) and completed (call teardown). In this discussion, we’re going to explore how to properly configure Observer Expert to handle Avaya systems under the Expert VoIP Settings menu.

Avaya VoIP systems use specialized media and control processors to set up and teardown calls. Without configured settings a call transferred from one phone to another may not be followed. This leaves Observer to assume that the original call timed-out, so it establishes the transferred call as a new call. But with Observer, there’s an easy way to identify these servers to help identify calls.

  • Choose Capture > Packet Capture from the Observer main menu.
  • From the Packet Capture screen click the Decode button at the top. From the Decode and Analysis screen select the Expert Analysis tab in the lower left-hand corner. Then select VoIP Events on the left side, listed under Expert Data.
  • Click on Settings within the VoIP Events menu. This will cause the Expert VoIP Settings menu to appear. Under the General tab, you can list specific servers in the white box below Server Configuration.
  • In the white box, click below IP to list the address of the server. You can then choose the IP type from the drop-down menu indicating it as a Server IP, Outside IP, Media Processor, or Control Processor.

Thanks to Network Instruments for this Article

Can Your Analyzer Handle a VoIP Upgrade?

Network Instruments - VoIP Network Analyzer Is your old VoIP or PBX system rapidly approaching the end of its life? Your network has changed substantially since its deployment many moons ago, making this an ideal time to investigate new VoIP systems and ensure your existing monitoring solution can keep pace with the upgrade. In this article, we discuss five critical areas for consideration to determine whether your monitoring tools can keep pace with the new demands of a VoIP upgrade

Supporting more than one IT team: If you’re shifting from a traditional PBX system to a VoIP solution, chances are the system will be managed by more than one team. While you might live and breathe packet-level details, the voice team is accustomed to metrics like jitter, R-Factor, and MOS. Can your monitoring solution provide VoIP-specific quality assessments plus packet and transaction details for problem resolution?

Addressing configuration challenges: In rolling out large VoIP deployment systems, device and system misconfigurations can get the best of even the most experienced network team. Have you hired VoIP consultants or is this a DIY project? If the ball’s in your court to bring VoIP to the desktop, check out this tech advisory and quickly run through the pre-deployment and monitoring capabilities needed for successful implementation.

Isolating the root cause: Have you ever seen users or departments experiencing bad MOS scores only to ask yourself, “Now what?” How do you quickly navigate to the source of the problem? It’s more than exonerating the network. Your solution should let you isolate the source of quality problems. Does your solution allow you to determine whether the call manager or a bad handset might be at the root of your VoIP frustrations?

Supporting multi-vendor installations: Many larger IT environments are now implementing VoIP solutions from multiple vendors. For example, you’ve already rolled out Cisco® to the desktop, and have been tasked to deploy Avaya® to the call center. Does your analyzer provide detailed tracking for multiple vendors? Has your monitoring solution been configured to understand the differences in how each VoIP system handles calls? Without this support, you may be forced to toggle between multiple screens to troubleshoot or reconcile various quality metrics to assess VoIP performance.

Understanding the changes in the environment, ensuring rapid problem isolation, tackling potential configuration challenges, and assessing your solution’s support for multiple vendors are the keys to ensuring a successful rollout. Below you’ll find great resources to take that next step in understanding VoIP monitoring.

Thanks to Network Instruments for this Article

OPNET Talks End-to-End Management and Monitoring of Unified Communications

Unified Communications (UC), especially the real-time applications, is unique because of user expectations. Management of UC is very important as it ensures service availability and service performance, as well as other aspects of UC including security and compliance.

“At the end of the day, the user expectation is real-time communication services are available any time all the time,” Gurmeet Lamba, VP R&D Unified Communications Management, OPNET told TMCnet in an exclusive interview.

For example, if your phone is not connected you can’t make a phone call. A user has an expectation that the phone should work every it’s used. If you call somebody on a cell phone, but the voice is broken, you can’t complete your conversation. In both of these cases, the service performance is not adequate and the user’s expectations are not met.

“The reason the user expectation is so high is because it is so critical to the users living their lives,” said Dave Roberts, director of product management, Unified Communications, OPNET. “You car should start, your lights should turn on, your shower should run.

”End-to-End in UC means managing and monitoring the breadth and the depth of all components involved in orchestrating a successful communications session. To make this happen in today’s world, there are a number of components that are involved.

For instance, in order to complete a conference call, all parties phones must work, the network to the conferencing server must work, and the conferencing server itself must work properly.

End-to-end management and monitoring means getting visibility and performance of every single component involved in the complete communication session.  End-to-end involves management and monitoring of every component in the breadth and the depth of the communication session. The breadth consists of the applications – unified messaging, conferencing server, devices, call management servers, etc. When it comes to the depth, components include a client such as a phone or an application on your computer, the configuration of the application, the network, the virtual server, and the physical server.

“You can see the technology stack from top to bottom and from left to right. All of it has to work,” explained Lamba. “Communication is the oil that keeps everything moving

”When it comes to the most perfect End-to-End Management and Monitoring UC solution ever invented, Dave Roberts, director of product management, Unified Communications, OPNET, said, “The first goal would be to have 100 percent visibility to all of the information at all times. You would have to know every configuration of everything that is involved with the communication and every state of everything happening on the network at any instance. And then, it would have to have a way to correlate and use that information to do to a few things including detect problems, analyze information to find the cause of the problem, and fix the problem.

Article from TMCnet.com by Amada Ciccatelli  on OPNET