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Your Network is Talking to You – Are You Listening?

From the experts | Posted on September 12, 2013 by Lesley Morris

Back in the golden age of IT ( about 8 years ago),  the only thing you had to worry about running on your network was data. It was easier then to troubleshoot problems and find solutions. Then came voice, added to the network to leverage the infrastructure and save costs, and more recently video and mobility.

Complexity grew and IT support teams were faced with ensuring that each distinct technology worked seamlessly with the others, and that voice and data quality and service levels were continuously up and maintained.

This proved challenging in some organizations where historically voice and data were supported by different teams, so IT had a steep learning curve to understand the different requirements of voice and voice teams needed to find ways to integrate into the IT environment.

Today, with converged networks, extensive knowledge of data and voice systems is mandatory, but how do you reduce complexity and cost to effectively manage their operations?

Matt Bynum, Softchoice’s Practice Lead for unified communications has an answer. “It always goes back to the network” he says. “IT needs a fundamental understanding of their network infrastructure and configurations, so when there is jitter, packet loss, or other audio issues, IT knows where to go and how to manage the issues. We’ve worked with hundreds of customers to uncover problems and improve performance and I can say in my experience that having a depth of expertise in the fundamentals is key to UC success. ”

Ken Chan, Softchoice UC Architect adds “Troubleshooting voice issues amounts to a “black art.” When users call with voice quality issues, there may be multiple aspects for IT to consider from a single point of failure like a faulty handset to something systemic that is causing issues throughout the network, and working out exactly what those issues are can be more of an art than science.”

Listen to your network

One major problem contributing to the complexity facing many organizations is a lack of monitoring platforms and management processes, often overlooked in the original technology purchase to save costs.  Monitoring systems aren’t just to watch network traffic and troubleshoot, they can also provide valuable insights for planning for growth and managing capacity.

Without monitoring, organizations often have to rely on less formalized troubleshooting which can take time and reduce overall productivity.  Another path some organizations take is to layer on “band-aid” solutions, to provide extra insight into network issues. Often these solutions are quick fixes and don’t enhance understanding of some of the deeper issues that may exist because they lack a holistic view into the infrastructure. In addition, this approach requires staff to learn a myriad of different tools, while simultaneously managing and responding to day-to-day system alerts and maintaining their ongoing workloads.

What’s the bottom line?  A comprehensive UC monitoring program is an alternative approach that provides deep technology expertise to understand and solve communications issues before they impact the business. Equipped with information, issues can be identified and resolved much more rapidly and cost effectively.

The Softchoice Keystone Monitor solution is a great example of a service that not only monitors the network, it helps you identify and solve problems before users even notice there is a problem.  Proactive services include:

  • 24x7x365 event management extending IT’s support capabilities, ensures alerts received are critical, relevant and resolved based on defined procedures.
  • A managed platform of industry leading enterprise grade tools, with best in class systems, augmented by our award winning Keystone Technical Service Center (KTSC), reduces the need for heavy investments in software, infrastructure, people and training, that organizations usually require to leverage their IT investment.
  • Trend reporting provides guidance and advice on the health of the technology infrastructure using collected data, aggregated into insightful views.

Matt and Ken are interested in your thoughts on how your UC infrastructure is managing the challenges of support and planning for the future. Feel free to add your thoughts below or read more about Softchoice’s Keystone Monitoring program and the KTSC, then contact your Softchoice representative to learn how monitoring can make a difference in your environment.

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