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Category Archives: VoIP Troubleshooting

How to Overcome the Most Common VoIP Hurdles Network Engineers Face

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become a total game-changer for businesses. In fact, the global VoIP services market – including residential and business VoIP service –totaled at upwards of $63 billion in 2012, according to research analyst Infonetics Research.

“The market for VoIP services has moved well beyond the early adopter stage to mainstream status in many developed countries,” says Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC, and IMS at Infonetics Research.

Opposed to traditional phone systems, VoIP enables businesses to make and receive telephone calls over a broadband Internet connection. With VoIP, voice traffic is converted into data packets which are then transmitted over the public Internet or private IP network. The benefits of VoIP are unmatched – from reduced costs to increased flexibility to enhanced mobility.

However with businesses rolling out more end-user VoIP applications, network engineers need to be able to effectively analyze all network traffic, with a specific emphasis on VoIP, which presents a unique set of challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the obstacles:

  1. VoIP places pressure on network engineers to quickly resolve problems: Telephone calls are essential to businesses and today’s employees don’t have patience for interrupted, poor quality phone calls. When there are issues with the phone system, business can come to a screeching halt, which undoubtedly puts pressure on network engineers to quickly and effectively address problems.
  2. VoIP requires network engineers to rapidly become experts in telephone and voice technology: Protocol and network problems can tarnish VoIP services and, until recently, network engineers didn’t have the necessary network monitoring and analysis tools to find and fix faults on VoIP networks.
  3. VoIP makes it difficult for network engineers to diagnose problems on site: Most VoIP monitoring and troubleshooting products are hardware-based, expensive, and non-portable, which makes it difficult for engineers to diagnose problems on site. And when tools become too cost-prohibitive they are cut from the budget, leaving engineers without a solution to address VoIP complications.

To ease the pressure of network engineers having to maintain VoIP quality of service (QoS), WildPackets’ Network Analysis Solutions have the ability to monitor and analyze all network traffic, including voice and video over IP, allowing network engineers to determine when different types of traffic negatively affect each other. More specifically, OmniPeek Enterprise provides in-depth monitoring, analysis, and troubleshooting of both network and media traffic, eliminating the need for multiple analysis solutions. Network engineers are able to obtain a detailed analysis of latency, throughput, and network problems in a user-friendly display.

With quick access to this type of information, IT team members are able to quickly and effectively resolve issues, maintain a QoS experience, mitigate poor performance caused by competitions for network bandwidth, and monitor compliance with established network policies.

With more businesses adopting VoIP technology, network engineers must have a solution that enables them to effectively and quickly monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot problems in the real-time, ensuring that businesses get the type of voice quality they’ve come to expect.

To learn more about VoIP monitoring and WildPackets’ OmniPeek Enterprise solution, click here.

Wireless Field Day 5: What You Did and Didn’t See…

Last week, we participated in our second Wireless Field Day event and hosted 11 of the industry’s top wireless professionals at our headquarters to dive into demos of our Omni Distributed Analysis Platform 7.5. For those of you who missed the live stream of our presentation, we thought a quick wrap-up of what happened when cameras were rolling – and even when they weren’t – would help you feel like you were in the room with our delegates!

Want to know what went down? Read on, as we give you the inside scoop and what the cameras did and didn’t capture at Wireless Field Day 5.

Capturing 802.11ac Packets in Real Time
Demonstrating a live 11ac capture was one of our favorite parts of the day, as it’s something we’ve been working hard on, and we’re the first to deliver a solution. Although we weren’t using 802.11ac as the primary wireless network, we had a separate laptop connecting to a Linksys 11ac AP and sending traffic over an 11ac network.

We used a 1-steam 11ac WLAN adapter, the Cisco AE6000, to capture 11ac traffic for analysis in OmniPeek. We showed summary-level views of the 11ac traffic in OmniPeek’s Compass dashboard, and drilled into detailed views of the 11ac packets themselves. With OmniPeek’s new support for MCS and spatial stream reporting, all key metrics of any WLAN, including 11ac, are at your fingertips. And with support for 11ac USB WLAN adapters for capturing, you can continue to use OmniPeek as your go-to portable WLAN network analyzer and capture 11ac anywhere, at any time.

Here’s the video of us capturing 802.11ac traffic.

VoFi (Voice over Wi-Fi) Capture
In addition to capturing single-stream 11ac traffic, we also demonstrated packet analysis of a VoFi call, which you can watch us do below. With OmniPeek, we showed how users could capture an entire VoFi call, store it, and play it back to see where problems may have occurred.

By highlighting the specific call in our “calls view” interface, you can easily drill in to see detailed analysis of the call as a whole, including details like the number of control packets, control flows, signaling flows, and signaling packets. And in our “media” view we provide even more details regarding the call, including key metrics like MOS, R-Factor, jitter, and packet loss so you can determine exactly how each and every call on you WLAN is performing.

What you didn’t see…
Well, if you’ve checked out any of the videos, one thing you’ll notice is that there are a lot of Macs among the WFD delegates, and we’re demonstrating from a PC – clearly a technology mismatch. But before the delegates left our offices, many were already running OmniPeek on their Macs (either using Boot Camp or the VM of their choice) AND capturing 802.11ac packets with the very same Cisco AE6000 we used in our demonstration. Needless to say they left a very happy bunch.

In case you missed Stephen Foskett’s original stream of the event, you can catch the remaining videos here. As always, if you have any questions or just want to get some conversation going, leave us a comment on this blog.

Why Customers Choose WildPackets

Customers come to us for a multitude of reasons. Some aren’t happy with their current network monitoring solutions; others are experiencing network glitches that they cannot solve; and some simply need a cohesive analysis solution. WildPackets offers a suite of products that bring customers to us from far and wide, many of whom need specific capabilities in their monitoring solution. Let’s take a look at just a few of the reasons WildPackets is the leading network analysis solution.

10G Analysis
WildPackets led the way in 10G analysis, being the first to introduce a network recorder to break the 10G barrier. When our TimeLine network recorder was introduced in 2010 it was the only network recorder to capture and store packet-level data, with no data loss whatsoever, at 11.7Gbps. Since then, WildPackets has continued to refine TimeLine, offering even more real-time statistics, increasing our overall data throughput, and adding support to capture directly from 40G network segments.

Network Forensics
Going hand-in-hand with network recording is network forensics. As you’re streaming packets to the network recorder perhaps you see a troubling trend in the real-time dashboard, or maybe a user enters a trouble ticket. Network forensics allows you to analyze a subset of your recorded data while the overall high-speed capture continues uninterrupted.

Often associated with security, network forensics goes well beyond security and also helps solve far more common issues on your network, like spikes in utilization, drops in VoIP call quality, and increased latency in both network and application performance. If a problem does occur, you no longer have to try to recreate the problem, which is typically the most time consuming task in any troubleshooting session. Instead, with TimeLine, you simply go back in time, find the problem on the dashboard, and solve it.

Remote Analysis
The days of using a laptop to perform portable analysis, especially on high-speed wired networks, are now extinct. Corporate networks are highly distributed, even for small to medium sized businesses. Even if your company operates from a single location, odds are you host some services remotely, and use some level of software-as-a-service (SaaS), making it difficult to always be where problems are occurring. WildPackets’ Omni Distributed Analysis Platform provides a wide range of options for remote network analysis, from “lightweight” software solutions like OmniPeek Remote Assistant and OmniEngine software probe, to high performance network recording appliances like TimeLine. With a WildPackets solution, network engineers can monitor and analyze highly distributed network architectures without ever leaving their desks.

Top-Down Approach to Network Monitoring
For an overall, top-down view of any network segment, customers find WildPackets flagship OmniPeek network analyzer most helpful, whether as a portable analyzer or as a console to any of our remote analysis solutions. OmniPeek provides complete visibility into your network – including Ethernet, Gigabit, 10G, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and VoIP and video. OmniPeek provides visual context into the network so that even junior IT staff can drill down into performance problems and solve performance issues across multiple network segments. This ensures maximum network uptime and user satisfaction.

The Full Suite of Network Monitoring and Analysis Products
And for a complete view across your entire network, WildPackets offers WatchPoint network monitor. This solution builds on our suite of distributed analysis products and provides a comprehensive graphical interface of overall network performance, including top talkers, top applications, overall utilization, VoIP performance, and detailed reporting of detected network and application problems (Experts). WatchPoint also provides a direct link for detailed, packet-level analysis to determine the root cause of any issue.

What is your favorite WildPackets product? Feel free to leave us a comment and share your thoughts.