Users seek more rigorous monitoring with VOIP networks

As the city of Houston prepares to launch a major voice over IP (VOIP) project, CIO Denny Piper first wants to get a network operations center in place.

While he hasn't chosen which monitoring tools to use in the network operations center, he knows he's going to need them.

"You can't have outages with voice," he said. "You need to be proactive, you need constant monitoring, and you need to be able to perform some kind of self-healing on your systems."

Mark Katsourous, a communication automation specialist at the University of Maryland, noted that networking vendors do provide VOIP monitoring but added, "Those are first-generation tools, and they need to get a lot better."

In order to skirt performance issues, some vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. set up circuit breakers where a single line will allow only so many VOIP calls before it denies or reroutes new calls.

Yet Piper said he wants to be able to check the entire voice and data flow through his network. What's unclear is how to do that. Vendors could monitor everything from the network connection points to the individual network devices.

As VOIP increases the traffic flow across the network, there will be vast amounts of monitoring data to process.

"The reality is that you're probably going to need to consume bandwidth just monitoring the network," said Alex Pierson, vice president and general manager for enterprise business networks at Nortel Networks Corp. in Brampton, Ontario.


Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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