The difference between success and failure has always been founded in the ability to provide the highest quality of service, a fact that many VoIP providers have realized far too late. Never has that reality been as clear as in the current economic downturn. Not only are competitive providers and solutions chopping at the bit to sign new customers, but those customers are less tolerant than ever of subpar service quality.
For VoIP service providers, as well as enterprises, that means an increased focus on ensuring network quality and an ability to quickly identify sources of problems to ensure reliability of services to their subscribers and customers.
One of the challenges — also intensified by the economic situation — is the investment in testing solutions, which has led many companies to put off deployments, or to seek outsourcing alternatives. In fact, Ovum (News
) recently predicted
that the total outsourced IT testing market will eclipse 58% of a total of $56 billion by 2013.
However, for network operators, an outsourced model is not the most effective model — they are better served by on-premises solutions, and are looking for effective solutions that won’t break the bank.
That’s precisely what Touchstone Technologies
has long prided itself on — offering a quality solution that isn’t cost prohibitive, largely because it’s a software-only solution, but also because Touchstone (News
) believes in offering a solution that offers quality at an affordable cost.
Specifically, its WinEyeQ is ideal its VoIP and IP video analysis and monitoring solutions, which runs on standard PCs. With it, users can monitor their networks for call quality, measuring call metrics and KPIs with ease.
Of course, as the VoIP industry evolves, so has Touchstone. In fact, late last year, CEO Mark Stacy told
Rich Tehrani (News
) that Touchstone will “continue to advance our products capabilities and focus quite extensively on diagnostic capabilities.”
Recently, Touchstone announced the latest version of WinEyeQ, which brought to bear Stacy’s comments. WinEyeQ 2.0 is largely a result of ongoing communication with Touchstone’s customers, with the most common request being for historical reporting capabilities and an ability to integrate its real-time reporting into back-end databases systems.
Stacy says that the evolution of VoIP networks is such that the increased quality of networks is such that network operators know they are capable of delivering quality service, and are moving away from real-time human monitoring and diagnosis. Instead, they are looking for solutions that can actively monitor their networks and alert them when an anomaly is spotted. They are also looking to more trend analysis and historical reporting capabilities. In a nutshell, that means capturing the data WinEyeQ has always captured in real time and recording it in a data file that can then be imported into any database application and used for trend analysis and over-time reporting.
“We’re seeing trends where people want to drop the product in their network, leave it to run, and come back in a day or a week to see what happened,” explained Stacy. “We’re just removing the human from in front of the computer.”
“But,” he adds, “Simply reporting call detail records is last year’s game.”
In addition to monitoring and reporting, WinEyeQ also helps diagnose where problems occur in the network, eliminating truckrolls that carriers claim can cost as much as $2,500 per instance. It collects the relevant information and has the ability to integrate that data into back office management systems, allowing them to troubleshoot remotely.
With the growing complexity of today’s networks, of the added benefits of WinEyeQ is its ability to correlate with other network elements and applications. For instance, large FTP transfers can adversely impact call quality. Being able to leave a monitoring device running on the network that can correlate call quality with other network events significantly enhances technicians’ ability to isolate problems and resolve them.
“What we’re seeing is that in the labs where you’re running everything in pristine conditions, it all works perfectly,” says Stacy. “But when you put it into practice in the real world, users are unpredictable.”
As for the reporting, the previous version captured the data and allowed analysis during a single session, but when the application was shut down, the data, graphs, and charts weren’t stored. Stacy says this version 2.0 is really the incarnation of the duality that Touchstone has always envisioned for WinEyeQ — its capacity as a monitoring tool as well as a protocol analyzer.
Ultimately, Touchstone decided that the best solution was to develop build database integration capability that would allow users to control and manipulate their data to run whatever reports and queries the needed — instead of trying to create a library of reports to try to satisfy everyone. So, the newest version of WinEyeQ has been developed with the ability to integrate with a number of different databases, maximizing its value.
The reports and queries are a snap for technicians and IT departments to build, though Touchstone is including a small, very basic set of high-level reports that it believes most of its customers will want to start with.
In addition to the monitoring and analysis capabilities of WinEyeQ, an additional use, which Touchstone hadn’t envisioned when it developed the solution, is its potential for calculating and reconciling usage. In fact, Touchstone has also added Radius support, enabling the delivery of call accounting records and allowing the solution to even be used as the core of a billing system.
So, not only has Touchstone delivered on Stacy’s promise to build out its solution to combine monitoring and diagnostic capabilities with reporting, it has further extended the value of its solution to its customers, who now have a powerful, flexible solution to help ensure they are able to meet their SLAs, without breaking the bank.
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask