IR Prognosis and featured in the May eNewsletter.">

End-to-end visibility and control of your evolving UC ecosystem is critical for quality and operational efficiency.  As a result, you are likely to be faced with a need to get an overarching perspective of how UC is serving your business, irrespective of which vendors are involved. This short article from Sue Bradshaw, one of the technology writers for IR, creators of Prognosis, sheds some light on the benefits of being able to 'see it all' through a single pane of glass.

If you’ve got more than one communications platform from more than one vendor you’re quite likely to be using a different tool to manage each of them. This means that you can’t correlate metrics across platforms and may find yourself struggling with a fragmented approach that relies on a mix of vendor-supplied administration tools, network management and open source software.

Irrespective of your phone or UC system, you’ll want the same outcomes. These include reliable voice quality, high availability, rapid presence and IM updates, optimized throughput and insight to the performance of all the devices in your UC ecosystem.

The notion of a single pane of glass for monitoring UC ecosystems is not new. An integrated view of all monitored systems improves processes, and reduces mean time to identify, convince and repair. Feeling in control of what you do is empowering and encourages you to find better ways to do it. Productivity surveys and case studies indicate that increased worker motivation and satisfaction can increase worker output. Successful management of a multi-vendor VoIP or UC environment can be measured through outcomes like excellent customer service, adherence to standards and processes, and absence of complaints.

In contrast, relying on disparate tools puts support teams at a disadvantage. It increases the complexity of problem solving because alerts and the underlying events come from diverse sources − different vendor PBXs, phones, gateways, servers, network devices, and so on.

However, if you can group all the disparate components across multiple platforms you will know what business activity is compromised and respond accordingly. A recent example within a call center found customers and agents experiencing problems with voice quality − in fact a robotic voice was encountered on carrier hand over. The call center lost revenue and productivity due to constant rework, and of course, customer service suffered. The support staff needed the ability to collect and correlate an extensive array of performance and availability metrics to identify the problem and create a resolution.

Using a specialized multi-vendor monitoring capability made it easy to drill down, and carry out root-cause analysis across the board. It was a complex problem. There were no voice quality issues reported as there was no jitter, packet loss or delay. And there were no codec-related problems either. The network wasn’t ‘guilty’ − voice traffic was prioritized and there was plenty of bandwidth so no alarms were generated and there was no indication of any problems when the robotic voice occurred.

Call history showed that all the calls with problems terminated on the same media processor.  The problem was narrowed down to a media processor firmware issue and once it was identified, the problem was rectified rapidly by a firmware upgrade. If staff had used disparate management tools the diagnosis could easily have been missed as each instance was surrounded by hundreds of other problem events.

This example shows some of the benefits of managing multiple vendors, versions, technologies and devices from a single pane of glass. It also allows you to streamline processes, reduce training requirements and leverage knowledge today to incorporate management of other platforms in the future.