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Boosting VoIP Quality and Converged Network Service Levels in Five Critical Steps

January 13, 2011

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As businesses today embrace converged communications, the need to manage voice over IP (VoIP) quality of service (QoS) and converged network performance has become crucial; however, finding and solving the true cause of VoIP quality and service issues can be frustrating and elusive.

All too often, technical teams chase “ghosts” of quality problems that are never resolved and overall converged network services do not support the business or the expected VoIP return on investment (ROI).

While VoIP analytics tools provide help, they frequently fail to accurately identify the underlying reasons VoIP quality and service levels continue to disappoint corporate stakeholders, leaving enterprises searching for a solid strategy to boost VoIP quality and converged network service levels in an efficient and cost effective manner. 

What’s needed to tackle this challenge is a comprehensive approach that not only addresses VoIP specific quality problems, but also the overall converged network environment that often lies at the root cause of VoIP quality and performance issues. To succeed, the approach must encompass five critical steps:

Close The Gaps that Endanger VoIP QoS and Service Levels

VoIP changes the landscape of traditional voice and data operations and management, creating gaps between these traditional silos. In a VoIP environment, voice teams often find they have little visibility into the converged network carrying their VoIP traffic, and even less control over underlying network capacity and performance levels that directly impact their IP based voice quality and services.

Meanwhile, network teams typically have limited visibility into what impact their routine changes to traffic priority and routing will have on the real-time VoIP application now traversing their network – and how that can degrade VoIP quality and user experience.

This visibility “gap” across the voice and network domains is a key contributor to the chronic poor VoIP quality and service levels that plague converged communications users.  To effectively deliver VoIP quality and network service levels, the gaps between these silos must be bridged.  Operational teams for voice, data, help desk, support, and admin must have end to end visibility across their convergence landscape if they are to effectively identify VoIP quality-affecting issues, and resolve VoIP problems in a pro-active and cost efficient manner.

Control the Costs Involved in Supporting VoIP Operations

The silos of voice and data not only obstruct visibility across the converged landscape, but also drive up the operational costs associated with supporting VoIP and delivering VoIP quality.

Traditional management tools and support processes were not designed to holistically manage real-time VoIP call quality and converged network performance in a unified manner. Relying on fragmented tools drives up costs, and puts the support teams at a serious disadvantage – often resulting in increased problem response times, poor mean time to repair, and overall dismal VoIP quality that erodes the business ROI of converged communications.  

To successfully support VoIP and control costs, implement a robust solution designed to holistically manage both VoIP quality of service and the underlying converged network infrastructure VoIP traverses. Through this unified approach, convergence support teams can cost-effectively support their mission-critical VoIP services.

Ensure VoIP Call Quality Meets Expectations

Establishing unified, holistic management over the VoIP and network domains is absolutely crucial, but when it comes to VoIP call quality – the devil is often found in the details. 

While averaged Network Mean Opinion Scores and QoS metrics are important, these averages can actually hide the real VoIP quality problems in a real world deployment. Low level application and transport layer statistics on a per call basis are required for accurate call quality troubleshooting and diagnostics.

These metrics include delay, latency, jitter buffer, and packet loss for each VoIP session in progress, as well as burst count, length and density on a per call basis. Without this granularity, technicians often chase the wrong root cause of quality issues, and waste time searching down the proverbial rabbit hole. 

To ensure VoIP quality meets the needs of the business, be certain your management solution provides the ability to monitor and report on a deep set of granular, end to end quality statistics for both live and completed calls.

Equip the VoIP Operations Team to Handle the Increased VoIP Support Load

End to End visibility and deep QoS metrics provide the crucial data to successfully manage VoIP quality and network service levels – but if the support team does not have the expertise to effectively utilize this data, VoIP quality and service levels will only worsen as the VoIP environment grows.

When troubleshooting the VoIP infrastructure, expertise is often trapped within a few senior individuals in an organization, creating a dangerous bottleneck that slows problem resolution and degrades service levels – particularly as the VoIP support load increases.

To mitigate this issue, choose a management platform that provides an efficient method to share critical knowledge across the entire support group on a 24x7 basis – an integrated knowledge base that empowers the entire support staff to work smarter and more effectively.

The business benefits of an integrated operational knowledgebase are evident in that users can reduce operating costs and increase service levels, streamline troubleshooting processes, and help establish repeatable steps that increase resolution accuracy – all of which result in higher VoIP quality and service levels.

Optimize Ongoing VoIP Quality Levels as VoIP Traffic Changes and Expands

The proper solution will effectively help you holistically manage the VoIP environment when issues arise, but how do you move away from “fire fighting” and get in front of quality and service level issues? Optimization is the best approach to proactively head off ongoing quality and service degradation. 

Optimization of the converged network requires the ability to perform both comprehensive historical reporting as well as “what if” scenarios for the future.  Choose a solution that provides an easy way to capture and report valleys in overall quality and performance over time, as well as a means to assess how the VoIP environment will react to higher call volumes, new business applications, or changes in infrastructure equipment. 

This type of reporting will be invaluable as your VoIP environment evolves, and will help take you from a totally reactive stance to a more proactive position that is a perfect recipe to boost VoIP quality and overall converged network service levels in the long run.

TMCnet publishes expert commentary on various telecommunications, IT, call center, CRM and other technology-related topics. Are you an expert in one of these fields, and interested in having your perspective published on a site that gets several million unique visitors each month? Get in touch.

Edited by Charles West
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