How to Effectively Monitor Unified Communications Network Traffic

Unified Communications Network TrafficToday, most organizations use a plethora of unified communications (UC) solutions, whether they know it or not. While popular applications like Skype, Slack, Webex, and plenty of others are great for collaboration and productivity, they are also extremely difficult for network operations (NetOps) teams to troubleshoot at remote locations. Without proper network visibility, NetOps cannot monitor unified communications network traffic at locations outside the organization’s headquarters. This can result in frustrated customers and users, decreased employee productivity, and even impact an organization’s bottom line. Fortunately, there are solutions that can address this issue with innovative capabilities that can monitor unified communication network traffic at remote locations.

If you think about the number of unified communications services the average office worker uses each day, it can be pretty shocking. Whether it’s checking e-mails using Office 365, sending a quick Slack message to a co-worker, or dialing into a team conference call using Zoom or Webex, UC solutions have become an integral part of the modern office. And, with the workforce becoming more distributed, these issues will only continue to affect organizations and their IT teams.

UC applications cause problems for IT teams because the traffic doesn’t pass through the corporate headquarters, but is reaching out from remote offices directly to the Internet. In other words, NetOps can’t monitor unified communications network traffic to predict or detect when these applications are experiencing problems. This has major business implications because voice, video, and telepresence applications can be severely impacted by network issues.

Let’s explore a few of the common issues UC applications experience:

  • Congestion: As companies increasingly use teleconferencing, voice and video take up a larger share of network traffic, which can overwhelm a less-powerful network. Placing multiple voice and video calls at once can use up all of the available bandwidth and degrade call performance.
  • Lag: VoIP and voice-only teleconference calls have a low threshold for latency. This means that even small delays of 50 to 100 milliseconds can significantly interfere with the conversation, which degrades user experiences and leads to frustration.
  • Jitter: Video conferencing with Skype or Webex is very common and useful for interviews, meetings, and presentations. But, when network packets arrive out of order or late, the picture breaks up causing a delay that interrupts the conversation. Telepresence apps and the Webex family are especially prone to these types of issues.

How to monitor unified communications network traffic to ensure performance

In the past, the only way to troubleshoot issues at remote locations was to send an IT worker to the location. As you can imagine, this is an expensive task that costs the organization time and money. Luckily, there are solutions that can help IT save time and money with remote monitoring. NetOps can set up solutions in remote offices that will monitor unified communications network traffic on-site and send metadata back to the company’s headquarters for analysis. For instance, a network engineer could easily check the display in a Network Operation Center to see if there are any existing issues or potential threats. If the engineer finds several alerts coming from a specific remote location indicating that Webex application response times are exceeding the 50-millisecond threshold they set, then they can prepare for the inevitable office complaints from users and begin resolving the issue even before it is brought up to them. Also, solutions that save packet data on-site help streamline troubleshooting complex issues. Packets will provide the deep level insights that IT needs to quickly identify where the delays are coming from if they are hitting a particular server, which part of a call it is from, and more.

Unified NPMD solutions like LiveNX enable NetOps to proactively monitor unified communications network traffic. Using a unified NPMD solution will make troubleshooting remote locations easier, faster, and more efficient. This will ultimately allow IT, teams, to effectively manage the network and better serve its customers and users.