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This is Not Your Father’s Voice Performance Management

Jan 23, 2018 | Network Management

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Network design and performance management isn’t what it used to be. When PBXs first hit the market, manufacturers told companies to buy one trunk for every four phones. Obviously too simplistic to apply across all vertical markets and companies, so the age of traffic studies was born. That was all about busy hours and trying to pick the right timeframe to run the studies. The busy hour values would then be run through probability models. Remember our ol’ friends Erlang B and Poisson distribution? Well, some of us old timers do. Picking the right time to run the study was tricky enough, but then running it through “probability” models left voice network engineers with little confidence in the results. Knowing these methodologies lacked statistical significance, everyone simply added 40%+ capacity to be safe. It was an expensive insurance policy but at that time a necessary evil.

Since those days, the introduction of technologies such as cellphones, texting, MPLS, VoIP and SIP have added significant complexity and rewritten the world of voice network performance management. But today, you have significantly better technology for data gathering and analysis. Now you have the option to be proactive and make true engineering decisions based on your company’s unique voice network. No longer do you have to sit back and wait for periodic traffic studies or let your telecom provider tell you how much capacity you need. Empower yourself and your organization with the right tools leveraging updated methodologies.  

This blog is not meant to have all the answers, but hopefully it will get you moving and thinking.

Visibility is everyone’s favorite marketing term these days. But look past the fluff and it is real. You do need (and can have) complete visibility to your voice network data. You need to have the data at your fingertips every day to optimize your network performance. How can you optimize anything if you don’t have visibility into real-time and historical usage trends? Sitting there now, can you answer these questions:

  • Is my network running at 35% utilization, 95% utilization or somewhere in between?
  • Have any calls been blocked or dropped today?
  • When did my call center facilities experience their peak usage this week or month?
  • Are there infrequent events that drive up capacity requirements 30% or more over any other time throughout the year?

Voice Network Planning as the world converts from TDM to SIP is all about a new set of acronyms. If you are thinking you will just use a magic calculator and convert your existing PRI channels to SIP bandwidth, you are at risk of extreme oversubscription. And, yes, that translates directly to money right down the drain. Given that your voice network most likely started with extra capacity and now add in all the new communication technologies that have lowered phone usage, it is very likely that your existing network has excessive capacity. How many times recently have you sent a text instead of picked up a PBX phone? Don’t let some SIP provider convince you that you need to spend way too much. Leverage a technology like Traffic Analyst and use your own historical data to:

  • Determine how many simultaneous calls you have today in your network, be it for a single site or across many sites. This knowledge is critical in purchasing the right quantity of Concurrent Call Paths (CCPs) from your SIP provider. It is also important to configure Call Admission Control (CAC) limits correctly. Yes, we all know the volume of voice traffic is almost by definition “bursty” and random. But, you can have the data right in front of you. Don’t guess!
  • Given the dynamic nature of networks, the flexibility to determine the impacts of changes is a critical component of network planning. “What if” modeling allows you to analyze the impact that changes – such as site expansion, increased call load, technology migrations or merging in a new site – will have on your network performance. Play the games of configuration choices in your traffic tool, find the best option and then deploy. Don’t risk your network to bad design without “what if” models.

Call Quality Diagnostics and Troubleshooting is not just “can you hear me now?” or the sound of a pin drop like in our old favorite TV commercials. Managing call quality in a VoIP network is a challenge. It may start with tracking metrics like MOS and jitter but also includes tracking abnormal call terminations and even call setup failures. Do you know why calls are failing in your network? Or, even how many calls are failing each day? Can you validate that Johnny really is experiencing poor quality calls?

We haven’t even talked about the challenges of tracing calls to answer subpoenas (there is better way than digging through raw CDR!), managing your number inventory or detecting fraud, but Impact has been working with customers just like you to address all these issues. Whether you are managing a TDM network, preparing for or in process of a transition to SIP, or managing a SIP or hybrid network, we have the right metrics and methodology to optimize your network. As you cycle between optimization and redesign projects for your dynamic network, we are a partner ready to “make the complex simple” and set you on a path for great success. If you are ready to start a conversation about putting today’s voice network management to work for you, contact us today. Or, send your questions to Ask the Experts

Whether you’re a seasoned voice network engineer or a newbie, check back to this Impact blog for upcoming posts on the ever evolving challenges and approaches for managing this new generation of voice networks. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for reading!

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