Survey Highlights Network Professionals Concerns over VoIP

48 per cent of networking professionals remain concerned about the general reliability and robustness of VoIP for serious business use according to a recent UK survey. 52 per cent of respondents also admitted to concerns about the ability of their network to withstand VoIP traffic. This was despite over 62 per cent of those questioned having implemented the technology, or planning to do so in the next 12 months. The survey, sponsored by Network Instruments¬, a supplier of network analysis solutions, questioned 150 networking professionals.

“Our survey suggests that whilst business leaders may be convinced by the benefits of ROI and pushing ahead with its introduction, those responsible for managing it and ensuring its successful implementation still have significant concerns about its reliability as a business technology,” says Ian Cummins, European sales director, Network Instruments.

One of the key issues the survey highlighted was the measurement of VoIP traffic. 33 per cent of respondents felt their company was lacking in VoIP monitoring functionality. Based on the tools they had available, 54 per cent of respondents stated they were concerned about measuring quality of service, and 29 per cent had worries about monitoring call data.

The main challenge with running VoIP across an enterprise network is its extreme sensitivity to delay, jitter and packet loss compared with other network applications such as web and e-mail services. As a result, users can experience audio quality problems, ultimately resulting in user complaints and downtime.

According to Network Instruments, many organisations are unaware that most of these issues can now easily be overcome by deploying the next generation of monitoring tools to manage, troubleshoot and maintain VoIP traffic and quality of service. The latest VoIP monitoring capabilities are incorporated into an all purpose network monitoring solution that approaches VoIP quality management from an IT administrator’s point of view rather than that of a telecomm engineer so they are easy to use in a business environment.

Today’s network monitoring products do more than decode the packets of various VoIP protocols, they also measure and display network jitter, as well as packet loss and distill this information into overall quality scores, both per call, and in aggregate. Furthermore, premium VoIP analysers include the ability to track, store and scrutinise long-term network trends. This capability allows network managers to effectively streamline VoIP communication. For example, normal VoIP performance can be accurately measured and benchmarked against, and provide an overall quality score, such as a mean opinion score (MOS) or R factor score – a useful VoIP network health index.

“Implementing VoIP is only a risk if the correct monitoring tools are not put in place first,” explains Cummins. “By closely monitoring the network conditions that affect VoIP network managers can begin to address developing infrastructure problems before they result in user complaints or downtime.”