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What the Rise in VoIP and Video on IP Networks Means for Network Monitoring

Today’s businesses are relying more and more on technologies that use IP connectivity. Case in point is the rise in unified communication product adoption, namely VoIP (Voice over IP) and video conferencing systems, in small, medium, and large enterprises. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2015 62% of all consumer Internet traffic will be voice and video.

While those solutions are bringing impressive boosts to productivity, there is a hidden cost – namely in the form of IP network congestion. The irony here is that IP- based communication technologies, or those based on the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) are highly sensitive to congestion, which impacts the quality of those communications, as well as the quality of network overall.  In the world of RTP, congestion results in latency, jitter, and packet loss, leading to garbled calls and frozen video streams.

Network technology advancements have tried to address these problems through QoS (Quality of Service) policies in routers and the use of segmentation techniques like VLANs and MPLS . But with RTP becoming the dominant data type on networks, it is becoming increasingly difficult to prioritize and segment such a large volume of traffic.

As use of these technologies increases, networks are experiencing degradation both for RTP and straight TCP/IP traffic.  So, how exactly does a savvy network manager head problems off at the pass? The simple answer is with effective network monitoring and troubleshooting. However, there is nothing simple about network monitoring, especially with today’s high-speed (10Gbps+) networks.

Effectively managing a network requires time and intelligence – intelligence in the form of real-time information about exactly what is happing on the network. Real-time intelligence requires the implementation of network analysis solutions that are able to capture, analyze, and record each and every network packet. Packet-level analysis provides the detailed information needed for troubleshooting problems associated with latency, jitter, and packet loss.

One way to tackle these thorny issues is with WildPackets’ distributed network analysis solution, which analyzes all network traffic, including RTP-based traffic like VoIP and video, and does so at up to 25Gbps in a single appliance. By combining analysis of both network data and RTP in a single solution, the impact of network utilization on VoIP, and the impact of VoIP on application data delivery, can easily be analyzed and addressed.

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