While much has been made of growing reliance on video conferencing tools as the global workforce is relegated to working from home, the true backbone of the today’s business world is the good old phone call. In fact, AT&T recently reported that mobile phone minutes were up 32 percent compared with usage prior the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many businesses provide phone connectivity via unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) systems. However, because there are so many moving parts involved with these services, there’s a greater potential for performance problems to impede the end-user experience.
The IT professionals responsible for UC&C services face increasing pressure to identify problems on a shared infrastructure, which makes it more challenging. Such an infrastructure might include multiple service providers, SIP trunks, WANs, and SD-WANs, increasing the complexity of the challenge. When problems do occur, IT must spring into action to correct them before business itself is adversely impacted.
Can’t Dial Out. Epic Fail!
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you are scheduled to call an important client at a specific time to discuss a major business deal. But when that time comes, you can’t dial out. In short, your UC&C system won’t allow you to connect. I think we’d all agree this would be an epic fail that could potentially harm the business, or at minimum annoy the person you are supposed to speak with.
So, what could be the root cause of this problem? A few possible reasons might include:
- Your network endpoints are having trouble communicating with the call server
- The call server is having problems communicating with external peers (for example, experiencing firewall, permission, and configuration errors)
- Your session border controllers (SBCs) are experiencing interoperability issues between the call server and the SIP trunk
When your network slows down or becomes congested, quality can be compromised, leading to both connection and quality issues. The key to solving this problem is having correct network prioritization for media and signaling protocols throughout each call’s journey through the network and SBCs. Bandwidth and quality of service (QoS) also needs to be configured correctly to avoid degrading call quality.
Slow Connection Conditions Create End-User Frustration
Another common UC&C complaint is when end users find it slow to get a connection. This may be caused by:
- Network WAN issues at a remote site causing the slow response to call servers
- Incorrect network prioritization for signaling protocols
- Congested or badly balanced call servers
- SBC vendor interoperability or codec issues
In particular, WANs may be susceptible to bandwidth congestion and will require correct QoS configuration to ensure best performance. Also, IT will need visibility into link performance in order to pinpoint the root cause of slow connection problems.
Ultimately, IT professionals need holistic visibility into the network and virtualized data centers, as well as across technology vendors, to ensure the entire service chain is functioning optimally. Information on the traffic over links for each QoS queue lets IT see what other traffic is contending with the voice and signaling traffic and what the priority should be.
At the end of the day, delivering the highest-quality UC&C service depends on IT’s ability to see all of interdependencies.
Find out more about UC&C quality for remote users.
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Krug is a solutions architect at NETSCOUT.