Looking to Assure Unified Communications Quality? Visibility Is Key.

Visibility is key to assuring successful unified communications.
David Pitlik

Successful digital transformation requires a unified communications (UC) system—a streamlined omnichannel experience that allows customers and employees to communicate and collaborate seamlessly across email, voice, instant messaging, and video, from any device, anywhere. In fact, according to Forrester Research, businesses that use UC solutions report a 72 percent increase in productivity and a 91 percent spike in improved collaboration, and a recent survey by Target Marketing found 74 percent of customers judge a cohesive omnichannel experience to be important.

But providing that seamless end-user experience across an increasingly complex UC environment is no simple matter. Digital transformation initiatives have created dynamic network infrastructures replete with servers, firewalls, and session border controllers, which are critical to SIP trunking. And the increasing adoption of hybrid environments means on-premises systems must work seamlessly with cloud-based systems in order to make voice and video communications successful.

Nowhere is this synergy more important than in contact centers. “At the end of the day, contact centers have to provide an engaging experience to customers,” explained Ray Krug, solutions architect for NETSCOUT, in a recent conversation with the CUBE’s Dave Vellante. “In most cases, this means offering an omnichannel experience, whether it be web chat, voice, or video. Ultimately, the happier customers are when dealing with your business, the more money they’ll likely spend, and the better your brand reputation will be.”

Traditionally, companies have managed UC system quality by monitoring each device within the infrastructure. This might involve looking at CPU utilization and examining server performance. However, this approach doesn’t take into account how the network is behaving. So, when user complaints start to come in, the available metrics don’t reveal the source of the problem. IT professionals end up engaging in a classic round of finger-pointing. Meanwhile, the issues are not easily identified, let alone solved. 

NETSCOUT’s approach uses probes and virtual probes to capture all the packet data from the network, which reveals how everything is communicating with everything else. “Because packets are notoriously hard to interpret, we employ our patented technology, called Adaptive Service Intelligence, to analyze the packets and create smart data that contains meaningful metrics,” said Krug. “So, regardless of the application, we can provide performance metrics. Whether it’s the mean opinion score of voice quality, application performance from a database, or performance of a mail server, our analytics layer very quickly delivers visibility into the root cause of why components are failing regardless of the complexity of the network.”

For example, said Krug, one NETSCOUT customer—a service company with six contact centers and about 10,000 calls per day—hoped to save $1 million per month by deploying SIP trunking to deliver unified communications over the internet, which can cut monthly communications costs by between 25 and 60 percent, according to some studies. But when the company implemented the solution, use experience went south. Calls were dropped, and no one could pinpoint the reason. NETSCOUT technology quickly identified the problem as a firewall issue. Once pinpointed, the issue was promptly resolved, and the company started hitting its projected ROI.

Visibility—whether premigration, during migration, or postmigration—is key to UC success. Without sufficient network visibility, IT is left with blind spots and an inability to resolve issues quickly. Using NETSCOUT’s monitoring solution, IT can see the behavior of UC services throughout the entire lifecycle, identify the root cause of problems quickly, and resolve issues faster. In addition to ending finger-pointing in the war room, this advanced approach to monitoring enables companies to ensure the highest-quality end-user experience and the greatest return on investment.

Tune in to Krug’s webinar on UC

Watch the full CUBE interview below

Meeting the Complexities of UC Performance Management

David Pitlik is a long-time technology and business writer and frequent contributor to NETSCOUT’s blog.