A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software
Using Convergence Management to Drive Strategic Business Communications The Keys to Successfully â€œBullet-Proofingâ€? the Enterprise Voice and Data Environment
A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software
Executive Summary Situation: Complexity Is the Rule in Today’s Enterprise Communications Environment
VoIP, IP telephony, and convergence by themselves are no longer the goals for business communications, but are now viewed as essential building blocks to achieve more strategic objectives such as Unified Communications, Mobility, and Collaboration. The IT requirements associated with these initiatives have resulted in a complex, multivendor voice/data communications environment that will continue to evolve and change as increasingly advanced communications technologies are adopted.
The adoption of IP voice and communications technologies has introduced staggering complexity into the businesscomputing infrastructure.
In the midst of this complexity, many communication-related challenges exist. Fundamental IP Voice problems such as inconsistent reliability, poor voice quality, and higher-than-expected support costs have limited return on investment and demonstrated that the reality of many of these technologies has been quite different from the original expected benefits. Problem: Multi-Platform Communication Environments Threaten Quality, and are both Difficult
and Costly to Manage The adoption of IP voice technologies has introduced staggering complexity, and often times mixed vendor equipment into the business-computing infrastructure. As a result, it is increasingly difficult to manage, ensure consistent service delivery, and, more importantly, ensure voice quality in these multi-platform environments. They often require multiple, proprietary management and analysis tools that increase costs, increase workload, and address only a limited portion of managing the overall communications infrastructure. In addition, many organizations are combining support duties across voice, data systems, and networks, challenging support staff to cope with managing technologies outside their core expertise. As a result, critical communications services are at high risk, voice quality suffers and business processes are crippled, leading to disenfranchised customers and lost business opportunities. Solution: A Flexible, End-to-End Solution that Manages All Voice and Data Assets to Deliver Quality
To address these challenges, businesses need a holistic, “end-to-end” management view and strategy that will provide detailed analytic answers on every aspect of the entire communications infrastructure and operation — regardless of whether the underlying devices are legacy TDM, IP voice, or IP data technologies. Such holistic management tools must support both existing and emerging communications technologies if they are to deliver the “end-to-end” view of converged services, rather than forcing administrators to learn and utilize multiple vendor-specific tools, which would increase training time, raise operating costs, and reduce support effectiveness. The concept behind a single, holistic, end-to-end analytical solution is the vision behind the ReliaTel Monitoring and Management Solution. ReliaTel provides a flexible solution that comprehensively manages all voice assets and elements to ensure converged voice service delivery and quality, while providing the strong management platform needed to successfully deploy and leverage new strategic communications technologies that drive business growth. Result: Consistent Quality, Reliable Services, Faster Problem Resolution, and Satisfied Customers
The ReliaTel Monitoring and Management Solution provides comprehensive visibility across the entire voice infrastructure, which leads to faster and smarter problem resolution, consistent quality and reliability of voice service delivery, lower operating costs, and the ability to seamlessly support the evolving communications technologies necessary to meet strategic business objectives and capture new business opportunities. 2
Comprehensive Flexibility Is Key To Successfully Managing Today’s Mixed Communications Environment After years of analysis and investment, many in the business and services community are realizing that the time, money, and effort spent moving their existing voice/data services to VoIP did not deliver the benefits originally anticipated by their call centers, Telecom, and IT departments. Problems such as inconsistent reliability, poor voice quality, and higher-than-expected support costs have demonstrated that the reality with VoIP has been quite different from the original expectation. Still, despite these setbacks, enterprises have accepted that this migration is a certain eventuality for their entire business communications environment. Unfortunately, managing a mixed voice/data environment that comprises legacy TDM, IP voice, and IT data assets have resulted in a hodgepodge of vendors’ solutions and proprietary tools that require extensive personnel, processes, and knowledge. This technology mix has added significantly higher cost and complexity to the task of converged communications management.
Many organizations are ill equipped to effectively provide the specialized expertise that is required to support a converged voice and data communications infrastructure.
In many organizations, communications support duties are being combined across voice, data, and networks, leaving administrators and support staff ill-equipped to effectively provide the specialized expertise and in-depth support that are required for a converged voice and data infrastructure. Further, utilization of multiple, vendorspecific support tools creates silos of management with low visibility and control between critical voice and data assets — putting the overall quality and service levels of the converged environment at high-risk. Despite these challenges, enterprises can envision the benefits derived from bringing these diverse technologies together to form a cohesive, easy-to-manage business communications platform. They understand a stable, flexible communications platform is essential to successfully launch additional strategic business objectives such as unified communications, workforce mobility, and online collaboration. Once achieved, a unified platform represents a strategic advantage that can translate into lower operating costs, more satisfied customers, and a position of market leadership that can in turn generate greater business opportunities. Failure is not an option. As businesses accept the inevitability of moving to VoIP, they must also ensure
consistent 24/7-service delivery as well as reliable voice quality in order to avoid negatively impacting customer service, brand loyalty, and future business opportunities and initiatives. As a result, both enterprises and service providers need a highly flexible solution that will evolve and manage both current and future mixtures of communications technology from end to end if they are to achieve their strategic business objectives. The goal of this white paper is to demonstrate to enterprise businesses and service providers how the implementation of a highly flexible communication management solution is pivotal to building the strong, “bulletproof” platform necessary to achieve business critical, strategic communications objectives.
Five Challenges in Managing a Diverse Converging Communications Environment When one analyzes the many challenges associated with managing today’s complex converged voice/data communications environment, there are five issues that rise to the top of the list.
A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software
1. Proprietary Tools in a Mixed, Hybrid Environment. Proliferation of multiple vendors’ technologies throughout a converging infrastructure has become the norm, creating a mixed-vendor environment that often spans both TDM and IP communications systems. Proprietary communications systems within the infrastructure are often supported by analytical tools that manage only that vendors’ devices in an equally proprietary procedural fashion. When problems occur in this mixed environment, administrators are unable to quickly spot and resolve the root cause of the problem, since they must gather, analyze, and compare data from the many proprietary tools and management applications in place across the assortment of routers, servers, gateways, IP Voice systems and PBX systems. Since the operating metrics reported from each device are different, even if the information is appropriately collected, administrators must translate and manually correlate this information between devices and systems to make an accurate assessment of the probable cause of problems. The lack of a single, unified view across this variety of devices complicates support efforts and increases operating costs while diminishing responsiveness and the ability to quickly resolve communication problems.
The lack of a unified management view complicates support efforts and increases operating costs while diminishing responsiveness and the ability to quickly resolve communication service problems.
2. The Absence of Integrated Management Methodologies. In today’s IP-based communications infrastructure, essential information management processes such as faulttolerance monitoring, root cause analysis, performance and quality monitoring, exception notification, capacity trending, and trouble ticketing are often disjointed and no longer included in a single vendor solution. This problem is magnified with the consolidation of administrative responsibilities for both voice and data. While previous administrators specialized in either voice OR data support, today’s converged architectures coupled with common cost containment strategies now require personnel to support voice, data, and network systems simultaneously. Once straightforward support procedures and fragmented tools do not address all aspects of the converged voice network, and support staffs do not have the necessary skills to knowledgeably detect, diagnose and resolve converged network issues that are outside their core expertise. The complexity of the voice infrastructure has outgrown the support methodologies in place. As a result of these disjointed support processes, silos of responsibilities have placed IP Voice effectiveness, service levels, and quality at risk. As companies roll out more advanced communications technologies from various vendors to support UC, Mobility, and Collaboration, this problem is further exacerbated, creating an even greater need for unified management across the increasingly diverse communications infrastructure. 3. Limited Technology Options. Within the current service provider environment, the tendency is to be broadly proficient with one particular manufacturer’s technology, and provide managed services specific to that technology using the manufacturer’s tools. But while this depth of experience may be beneficial for business customers using that solution, it diminishes the provider’s ability to pursue broader business opportunities with organizations that utilize other manufacturers’ solutions, or a mixture of solutions. It also severely hinders the provider’s ability to expand service offerings to encompass clients’ new best-of-breed communications solutions and support client initiatives that could translate into lucrative business opportunities. Today, companies need the flexibility to choose the best of breed communication technologies that best fits their evolving business needs. For enterprises that are expanding their IP-based communications environment, the primary vendor in place may not be the best technology supplier to effectively support new communications initiatives. But enterprises are often inhibited from adopting technology from alternative manufacturers and suppliers due to the inevitable “hodge-podge” of communications gear, applications, messaging servers, gateways, switches, etc. that will require additional specialized management tools as well as increased support staff and training. As a result, an enterprise can become trapped in a “vendor lock-in” situation that limits their freedom to select the best technology
in the future. This magnifies the necessity for a robust, flexible management platform that is capable of expanding and adapting to support current and future technologies — regardless of manufacturer choice. 4. Misunderstanding the Cost/Strategy Relationship. For service providers, managing costs is essential for success. Any provider must understand this relationship and how the implementation of specific management solutions impacts the operational overhead of their network operating centers (NOCs). Implementing an expensive solution that limits the scope of their future service offerings will not provide a cost or revenue advantage, and will have a severe impact on the overall profitability of that provider. For large businesses, measuring the ROI of convergence has historically centered on monetary cost savings. But the measure of true ROI goes well beyond such costs, and must also include the measure of how well the solution supports existing and future enterprise business strategies. If newly implemented converged communications solutions result in poor voice quality, greater network latency, or diminished customer service, any monetary cost savings would be minor as compared to the lost revenue opportunities associated with unhappy customers, and the decreased productivity from disenfranchised employees. Without comprehensive, flexible management of the evolving converged environment, businesses seriously jeopardize their probability of achieving their desired ROI, while increasing the risk that they’ll fail to successfully deliver on their converged communications promises.
If newly implemented communications solutions result in poor voice quality, any monetary cost savings would be minor as compared to lost revenue opportunities and decreased productivity.
5. Lack of an Extensive Knowledge Base. With today’s mixed vendor communications infrastructure, enterprises can no longer rely on their existing technical support personnel to have the extensive knowledge base necessary to support their mixture of data and voice technologies. To successfully diagnose, resolve, and prevent communications quality and reliability issues, administrators must be able to access and utilize both manufacturer-specific component details, as well as enterprise-specific operational data relevant to current enterprise conditions. Likewise, procedures previously employed to diagnose and resolve issues should be documented, readily available, and easily accessible to assist all support team members in performing their core responsibilities, and to ensure the most rapid response and resolution to communications issues. To overcome these deficiencies, enterprises must deploy highly effective solutions that assist administrators in understanding the hybrid voice and data environment and enhance their ability to maintain converged voice service levels.
ReliaTelTM: Holistic End-to-End Control over an Entire Mixed Communications Environment The reality with today’s highly complex and competitive business environment is that the enterprise communications infrastructure must now do more than merely provide basic data and voice services. The new building blocks for success require highly responsive enterprises to use these infrastructures to initiate cutting-edge solutions to unify business communications, deploy workforce mobility, and improve workforce collaboration. The new requirements for administrative responsiveness require providing support personnel with a high degree of control over the entire voice and data environment that moves them from tactics such as “reactive fire fighting” to strategies that employ “proactive trending and analysis” to avert signs of possible communications network risks and outages. Leveraging tools that enable the collection of real-time data, key performance trends, and service level metrics that reveal impending quality degradation and potential service interruptions is essential to this strategy. A unified solution that provides this form of end-to-end operational control, detailed information analysis, rapid response support, and bottom-line cost effectiveness is the vision behind the ReliaTel Monitoring and Management Solution (see Figure 1). 5
A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software
Figure 1: The ReliaTel Holistic Vision for the Communications Infrastructure
The new requirements for administrative responsiveness require providing support personnel with a high degree of control over the entire voice and data environment.
ReliaTel provides a unified view into every operational aspect of an entire communications infrastructure.
ReliaTel provides a consolidated management solution for a wide variety of voice devices, networks, and environments to ensure top voice-service levels across the entire TDM-PBX and IP-based communications infrastructure – regardless of the technology mix. Through ReliaTel, telecommunications and network staff can effectively manage the diverse and often geographically isolated TDM PBXs, VoIP and IP telephony networks, CO switches, voice mail, and adjunct voice devices through one consolidated, platform-agnostic management solution. ReliaTel eliminates the need for expensive, equipment-specific management hardware, manufacturer-specific software tools, or vendor-specific monitoring services, enabling telecom departments to confidently deploy and support “best of breed” converged communications technologies now and in the future. ReliaTel is also a strategic business solution designed to comprehensively manage and monitor the entire business computing infrastructure—across data systems and devices, LAN, WAN, and voice networks as well as environmental and security devices—providing the holistic end to end management so critical within complex converging environments. Enterprises and Service Providers alike use ReliaTel to ensure overall voice quality, service levels, and the return on investment necessary to pave the way for future strategic communications initiatives.
Solving the Challenges of Managing a Diverse, Converging Communications Environment 1. Deploy a Non-Proprietary, Comprehensive Management Solution for Mixed, Converging Environments Attempting to manage an evolving mixed communications environment, particularly using multiple proprietary tools, is both costly and risky. The ReliaTel non-proprietary, vendor-independent design delivers the comprehensive solution necessary to manage the diverse, evolving voice infrastructure – regardless of the technology mix now or in the future. ReliaTel powerful management capabilities enable both enterprises and Service providers to:
• Manage the full gamut of telecommunications, network, and data components across TDM, VoIP, IP telephony, IP network, and converged communications technologies. • Reduce operating and support costs, improve responsiveness, and comprehensively ensure communications service levels through end-to-end monitoring and analysis of the entire communications environment. 6
2. Implement a Unified Management Strategy to Integrate Operational and Support Methodologies As convergence grows within the enterprise, operational and support methodologies must change and integrate across voice, data, and network boundaries to ensure reliable, quality voice service delivery. ReliaTel provides the end-to-end capabilities needed to integrate operational and support systems into a flexible, holistic management methodology that minimizes complexity, and augments support staff skill sets across the entire voice, data, and network infrastructure. ReliaTel key capabilities include: •
A Centralized Web-based Portal providing a “Single Pane of Glass” dashboard and a consolidated view of all local and remote operations across all components, systems, assets, and processes. Through the ReliaTel management portal, support staff can dynamically interact with a unified presentation of all alarms and exceptions detected across all voice assets.
Real-Time Fault and Performance Monitoring of the entire voice environment for events, exceptions, performance metrics, and quality metrics, with customizable thresholds to detect critical conditions that signal impending problems. Through ReliaTel, operations and support staff have the necessary data to proactively address issues and problems, rather than working reactively in a “fire fighting” mode.
Real-Time Analysis that includes the translation and reporting of analytics and metrics from disparate voice assets. This feature converts proprietary device-specific and performance-related information into a common language that telephony and data administrators can easily understand, speeding response time, and reducing mean time to repair.
Interactive Management Maps that display both the status and the health of the entire converged voice and data environment in an integrated view. Staff is immediately aware of critical problems by simply glancing at the dynamic map displays, taking the guesswork out of tracking down problem cause and rapidly restoring top service levels. (See Figure 2). Figure 2: ReliaTel Interactive Mapping
ReliaTel interactive maps graphically display both voice and data operational health and performance trends across the entire local and remote enterprise
ReliaTel is designed to comprehensively manage and monitor the entire businesscomputing infrastructure to deliver optimum service levels across an entire global operation.
A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software
Built-In Integration Capabilities that support third party trouble ticketing and network tools, as well as web services, SNMP-supported solutions, and e-mail support systems to effectively integrate diverse operational and support processes into a cohesive, organized management scheme. For example, ReliaTel automatically generates trouble tickets within third party ticketing systems, and populates / updates alarm or event information directly within those tickets as conditions change.
3. Build a Robust, Flexible Management Platform That Does Not “Lock-In” or Limit Future Technology Choices:
ReliaTel provides immediate access to "pre-populated" device-specific information enabling new technologies to be immediately managed upon deployment.
Enterprises and Service providers alike must ensure the communications management platform can fully support both their current diverse mixture of converged communications technologies, but also those envisioned for the future – possibly from equally as diverse manufacturers. ReliaTel provides the fundamental flexibility necessary to adapt and manage today’s technology mix, as well as tomorrow’s — ensuring the complete freedom to choose the best communications technologies in the future. ReliaTel delivers: •
Flexible Connectivity Options and Customizable Configurations for numerous vendors’ devices, hardware, and applications, including Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, Siemens, Ericsson, NEC, Mitel, AlcatelLucent, and many more. ReliaTel collects real-time data and metrics based on the nature, protocol, and capabilities of the specific device to be managed, including SNMP, SSH, RS-232, FTP, Modem, VPN, and many others. This flexibility in collecting data and metrics via numerous methods from any manufacturer ensures enterprises and service providers are never “locked in” by their current technology. Enterprises have full freedom to choose the best of breed communications solutions going forward, and Service Providers can pursue lucrative management opportunities with clients that have a wide variety of communications technologies.
Pre-Configured Foundation Kits for numerous manufacturers’ communications devices and applications to immediately provide critical management capabilities out of the box. ReliaTel provides immediate access to “pre-populated” device-specific information obtained directly from device manufacturers, enabling new technologies to be immediately managed upon deployment without delay. Through ReliaTel, administrators can be confident both their current and future technology mix will be comprehensively managed, and they will have the capabilities necessary to consistently uncover and quickly resolve service issues now and in the future.
4. Eliminate Risks and Ensure the Success of Communications Strategies by “Bullet-Proofing” Your Voice and Data Environment: Deploying converged communications technologies can only be successful if the resulting voice services are delivered with high quality, availability and reliability. Failure is not an option, as communication with both internal and external customers is the lifeline of any business. ReliaTel ensures that enterprises and Service Providers can bullet-proof their converged environments, with extensive capabilities including: •
Performance and Quality Dashboards that present a continuous view of critical operational and quality metrics throughout the voice infrastructure, and automatically trigger alarms when metrics are not within established thresholds. (See Figure 3). Through the customizable dashboards, support staffs receive early warning and critical diagnostic data regarding exceptions, performance threshold variations, and quality metric variations that can signal impending voice quality degradation, or service outages.
Automated Notification and Escalation to immediately notify local and remote staff of potential problems. Alarms are presented using customizable, meaningful text —rather than obscure codes or cryptic symbols — enabling staff to rapidly recognize issues and take immediate action. Further, alarms are generated based on any customizable criteria, and are multi-layered by severity to differentiate low priority events from critical, urgent events.
A Centralized Audit Trail and Logging System designed to speed diagnostics and provide user accountability. Utilizing the appropriate audit trail and log, authorized support staff can rapidly uncover the root cause of alarms, performance issues, and potential user caused errors on all managed components. Figure 3: The ReliaTel Performance Dashboard ReliaTel provides a dashboard view of all critical performance-related information.
ReliaTel provides capabilities designed to strengthen the operational knowledge of the support staff.
Direct, Secure Remote Access to control voice and data devices, empowering support staff to control voice and network servers, devices, and components. This provides the same functionality as if they were directly in front of that device to immediately perform diagnostics, restarts, remote administration, maintenance, and even recycle power. Through ReliaTel remote access, support staffs have a powerful method of expediting problem resolution, and reducing critical “Mean Time to Repair” (MTTR) that can impact overall voice service levels.
5. Implement Effective Knowledge Base Solutions to Augment Staff Expertise and Support Abilities: When convergence permeates an enterprise, the existing support staff must expand beyond their typical knowledge boundaries to successfully support new voice technologies, and deliver the necessary voice service levels. ReliaTel provides a full range of capabilities designed to augment and strengthen the operational and diagnostic knowledge of the support staff. This empowers support personnel with far greater capabilities to achieve and maintain the desired voice service levels. ReliaTel capabilities include:
A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software
ReliaTel provides enterprises and managed-service providers with an extensive arsenal of knowledge for their overall voice operations and support activities.
A Detailed Knowledge Base of Device Information and Resources provided via an Interactive Portal. The ReliaTel portal enables staff to collect and document their operational knowledge on each device within the overall communications infrastructure. This ensures that procedures and diagnostics previously used to resolve issues are readily accessible to all support personnel, to augment their support expertise, and to ensure rapid problem resolution.
Task Automation that provides the ability to standardize and automatically initiate routine processes, administrative tasks, recovery actions, and procedures without human/manual effort or intervention. This ensures the most rapid and cost-effective resolution to complex communications problems, using accurate procedures and processes. Task Automation also helps to reduce human error and augment staff productivity.
Detailed Reporting that presents capacity and traffic recommendations, operational and performance trends, and identifies recurring device and user issues that need attention and correction. Utilizing ReliaTel alarm, performance, traffic, and capacity trending reports, administrators can address and prevent communication-related problems BEFORE they recur (see Figure 4). These snapshot reports can be created on a daily or hourly basis and archived for researching intermittent or past symptoms, capacity or traffic bottlenecks, and operational “hot spots”. Figure 4: The ReliaTel Detailed Report Generator
ReliaTel reports display valuable information on essential communication trends, recurring issues, and capacity thresholds that impact voice service levels
Using these tools and features, ReliaTel provides enterprises and managed-service providers with an extensive arsenal of knowledge for their overall voice operations and support activities. As a result, enterprises gain the deep insight required to ensure more reliable, consistent, and cost-effective voice network services. Service Providers gain the ability to better support their clients, and the documentation necessary to conclusively prove the significant value of the management services they deliver to each and every client.
Concluding Summary Today’s enterprise communications infrastructures are increasingly comprised of a wide variety of diverse vendors’ devices, and successfully managing these evolving environments requires a highly flexible solution. The necessity for a non-proprietary solution that manages any vendors’ equipment throughout the mixed environment is undeniable — and is essential for success. As businesses plot their long-range strategic communications plans, they will need a management platform that is comprehensive and flexible enough to evolve as their communications strategies and goals change. In essence, they must “bullet-proof” their communications infrastructure through this management platform, in order to build the firm foundation needed to launch future business communications initiatives. The ReliaTel Monitoring and Management Solution provides the in-depth management and monitoring capabilities necessary for today’s complex, multi-vendor, data/voice communications environment, enabling enterprises and Service providers alike to successfully build their communications management platform. Through extensive real-time monitoring, alarming, notification, diagnostics, automation, reporting, and a powerful Web-based control interface, ReliaTel provides the robust unified management solution necessary to support an evolving, growing communications infrastructure. ReliaTel empowers operations and support staff to transcend outdated knowledge boundaries, enabling them to quickly spot and resolve problems, lower support costs, and ensure a high return on the convergence investment. In summary, there are four primary business advantages associated with the deployment of the ReliaTel Monitoring and Management Solution: •
Comprehensive Flexibility through a single, end-to-end view and full control of the entire communications infrastructure both today and in the future.
Lower Operating Costs through more efficient, effective infrastructure support and administration.
Reliable, Quality Voice Service Delivery for current and evolving communications infrastructures.
Ensured Convergence Success and ROI due to improved service levels, availability, and reliability of the critical communications services that drive business growth and success.
ReliaTel empowers operations and support staff to quickly spot and resolve problems, lower support costs, and ensure a high return on the convergence investment.
About Tone Software Based in Anaheim, California, Tone Software is a privately held technology provider that answers to customers, not shareholders. With a firm foundation of proven ability spanning more than three decades, TONE Software has tenaciously put our Clients’ success first. With unwavering commitment to value and quality, the mission at TONE is to develop and deploy innovative software and services that meet the evolving business technology needs of our Clients’ global corporations and organizations. Our strategic solutions enable Clients to manage, control and ensure the reliability of their businesscritical voice, data, and network systems around the globe. Through its innovative technology and unparalleled support, Tone clients are empowered to achieve the highest service levels and excel in their competitive market space. Tone Software (800) 833-8663 (714) 991-9460 www.reliatelsolutions.com
ReliaTel is a registered trademark of TONE SOFTWARE CORPORATION. All other brand or product names mentioned are registered, trademarked, or service marked by their respective companies or holders. © Copyright 2009 TONE SOFTWARE CORPORATION.
Published on Jul 11, 2012
The Keys to Successfully “Bullet-Proofing” the Enterprise Voice and Data Environment A ReliaTel White Paper from Tone Software