VoIP network analysis and monitoring can no longer be considered luxuries, according to a survey by Network Instruments.
The research has revealed that compaines believe that VoIP applications change too fast for network hardware to keep up. "People are adopting VoIP before it's maturing," said Charles Thompson, manager of sales engineering for Network Instruments. "And this is why monitoring is now so important and necessary."
Even though 45% of the US organisations surveyed had already implemented VoIP, only 32% felt that they could properly monitor VoIP performance. In addition, 36% of network managers and administrators reported questioning their own personal ability to implement a VoIP system, even though they expected to begin a deployment in the near future.
"Many organisations adopt VoIP to save on telecom costs without realising how sensitive VoIP performance is to other applications running on the network," Thompson added.
Network Instruments is stressing the importance of a pre-deployment network analysis. In addition to preparing an existing data network for the added weight of a VoIP implementation, the pre-deployment analysis establishes a baseline for a post-deployment comparative analysis. Many enterprises find that after a VoIP deployment has been finalised, usage of one feature or another is greater than originally anticipated -- or more features need to be added. The pre-deployment analysis allows those additional features to be more easily implemented.
The Network Instruments survey also found that network engineers are most concerned with monitoring VoIP quality of service (QoS), the reliability of VoIP applications when traffic is high and the network's ability to handle the added VoIP traffic.
Given the size of many of today's enterprise-level networks, VoIP can be very delicate to run, with its extreme sensitivity to delay, jitter and packet loss -- especially when compared with other network applications, such as Web and email services, which are not real-time applications. Users are much more likely to complain about delays on their phone conversations than about momentary delays in receiving emails.
Thompson stresses the necessity of network monitoring -- before, during and after a VoIP deployment -- as VoIP on an enterprise network becomes denser. "Enterprises need to look at the long term," he said, "to be aware of how the network might work post-deployment and what features will be added in the future."