One of the less pleasant surprises network managers face when they're deploying VoIP is the lack of correlation between raw bandwidth and call quality. Network Physics this week introduced a set of extensions to its application performance appliances to help admins nail down the myriad factors that affect voice performance.
Network Appliance's Vice President of Marketing, Scott Safe, said a recent Gartner study indicated that 70 percent of businesses deploying VoIP fail to do a pre-deployment baseline study, then find themselves dealing with call quality issues including echo and clipping.
"The biggest factor," said Safe, "is that there's always been a belief that if I can add enough bandwidth, I can run any application because the bandwidth is there."
When problems start, he noted, "you see this finger-pointing blame going on between vendors [and] networking teams."
Adding to the complexity of the situation, network traffic itself is growing by leaps and bounds. Safe said data traffic on most networks grows 40 to 50 percent a year before VoIP data is figured in, exacerbating problems and making them harder to isolate.
NetSensory Solution Insight for VoIP is Network Physics' answer to the problem, providing a set of extensions to the company's existing appliance line aimed specifically at measuring over 60 metrics that can affect call quality.
According to Safe, the product is unique in two respects: It offers deployment from a single-arm appliance, and requires only a SPAN/mirror port or tap connection, relieving the need for complex monitoring of numerous individual handsets.
He said it also monitors "real user experience" rather than relying on synthetic calls or software agents to assess voice traffic.
Using data from the product, Safe said administrators can isolate everything from broad network issues to specific configuration problems, such as handsets configured to use the wrong voice CODEC (define). In addition, data from the appliance is stored for up to a year and can be used to help organizations with SLA verification from VoIP providers.
NetSensory Insights are available as part of the company's family of NetSensory application performance management solutions. The NetSensory Solution Insight for VoIP is available at the end of December from Network Physics' authorized reseller partners. Pricing starts at $4,995 for up to 100 concurrent calls, or about 600 handsets, as an option to any NetSensory appliance (excluding the NP-Director). Through March 31, 2007, the NetSensory Professional appliance is available with a special edition of the NetSensory Solution Insight for VoIP (up to 50 concurrent calls, or about 300 handsets) at no additional charge for $9,995.