The Value of Monitoring and Diagnostics for your SIP Deployment
Take a SIP, Everyone’s Doing It
“The VoIP access and SIP trunking market remains on pace to become the default connection between on-premises customer platforms and the public switched telephone network (PSTN)”.
Source: Frost & Sullivan: Growth Opportunities in the VoIP Access and SIP Trunking Services Market
My conversations with enterprise customers, Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and others in the industry reinforce Frost & Sullivan’s conclusion. As enterprises upgrade to Unified Communications (UC), consolidate their infrastructure, and migrate to the cloud, they are also making the move from traditional PSTN to SIP trunks.
According to a May 2, 2017 No Jitter post, “SIP Market Growth Strong to 2020”, the main driver of growth in the SIP trunk market in 2017 is cost reduction. The Eastern Management Group report referenced in the No Jitter post, found that SIP trunks now cost less than half their traditional PSTN counterparts.
It’s just a SIP, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The SIP School surveyed nearly 1,000 respondents about SIP trunks. It covered who was migrating to SIP, why they were migrating, and what problems they were having. I found the answers around the challenges with a SIP deployment especially interesting.
SIP Trunk Provider
33.63% of the respondents cited the SIP trunk provider as the source of the “primary” issues. When the survey dove a little deeper, the following issues specific to the SIP trunk provider were revealed:
Although codec mismatches may not be as obvious to your end users, how will your employees react to:
- One-way audio
- No audio
- Trunks “dropping”
- Poor quality
Session Border Controllers
23.5% of the respondents cited the SBC/Edge device as the source of the “primary” issues. Some of the issues were the same, but some were directly attributed to the SBC performance:
Again, codec issues may not cause obvious impact to the user, but there is a common theme with no audio or one-way audio. In addition to the audio issues, the SBC raises potential new “trouble spots”, including:
- SBC failure
Protecting Your SIP Investment
Although SIP trunks provide cost savings and consolidation, these benefits can be quickly lost. User discord or agitation is inevitable if the environment is not properly monitored and managed and calls do not get through or call quality suffers.
Session Board Controller
The key hardware infrastructure of any SIP trunk deployment is the Session Border Controller (SBC). SBC’s sit on the border between the private enterprise network and the public Internet network to help control the signaling and media streams for voice and video traffic. The SBC ensures voice and video calls are properly initiated, conducted, and terminated, as well as providing key security functions.
The health of the SBC is a key component to the overall health of any SIP trunk deployment. It is important to have tools that can easily and consistently monitor the health of the SBC and alert on any failures or when certain thresholds are reached. You want to know if there are any red flags that signal a potential SBC failure or if the SBC configuration could be causing audio issues. You do not want your hardware to be the reason calls are not going through.
By interactions, I mean the voice and video conversations your users have, especially with external contacts. Why “interactions”? Because when you add video and collaboration, it goes beyond a single-modal conversation; plus, I needed an “I” word.
The heart of voice and video quality is the media. It’s the actual packets passing over the network and crossing the border between the external public network and your internal enterprise network. If the media is not being handled properly, voice and video conversations suffer and the user experience is deprecated.
To ensure the success of your SIP trunk deployment, you need a tool that can analyze the media in “real time” and determine the quality of that session (MOS). If there is one way audio or no audio at all, you need to understand what happened to those packets and where you should look to resolve it.
SBC’s leverage SIP signaling protocols to translate private enterprise network traffic into public Internet network traffic and vice versa. The signaling is the key to the handshake that allows internal callers to reach the PSTN and outside callers to reach your business. No matter how good the network quality is on either side of the SBC, if the signaling does not align, the call will not go through.
In order to effectively troubleshoot signaling issues between your enterprise network and your SIP trunk provider, you need a tool that can “bracket” the SBC, correlate signaling with individual phone calls, capture and document the errant signaling. For an example of the power of using bracketing to solve a problem in one day that an enterprise could not solve after 7 months, see our blog post: Knowing Where to Place the Chalk.
3 Key Factors of Success – A Single Solution
With our Nectar for SIP offer, MSPs have the tool they need to ensure confidence in your SIP trunk deployment. With these resources, issues are minimized and, should an issue arise, time to resolution is minimized, and, most importantly, the impact on users is minimized.
With Nectar, you’re just a SIP away from an optimal user experience.