December 3, 2010

Managing Multi-Vendor IP Telephony Environments

With the right tools, you can meet the challenge of managing your multi-vendor IP telephony environment.

Unified management of mixed version and multi-vendor environments combined with the flexibility and scalability to report across multiple sites will have a significant and favorable impact on total cost of ownership, and deliver the following benefits:
  • Support for core capabilities across the complete management lifecycle
  • Support for vendor specific metrics and application protocol interfaces
  • Scalability
  • Flexible management options
  • Flexible SLA management
  • Customizable views
  • Interoperability with network management tools.
It also:
  • Provides operations staff with a unified view across disparate IP telephony environments
  • Eliminates the need to procure and maintain multiple management tools
  • Reduces the time and expense involved in training staff to use different management solutions.
Unified multi-vendor VoIP management gives you a consistent and consolidated view of performance, usage and capacity across your entire multi-vendor IP telephony ecosystem.

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As IP Telephony systems become the de facto standard for corporate communications, the need for management of multiple systems becomes increasingly important. All IP Telephony systems are not created equally, and each has its own unique management system.

In particular, it is now increasingly probable that corporate mergers will involve the integration of systems from multiple manufacturers, and even if the systems are from the same supplier, the systems may not have compatible management.

This paper does a great job of addressing a mechanism by which management of these systems can be unified under a common platform.

I have a few questions for Sue Bradshaw, who authored the paper, and I encourage the Webtorials community to join the discussion.

Sue, I'll begin by asking you to expand a bit on why multi-vendor implementations occur.

The most common cause is as a result of mergers and acquisitions, although there are many other reasons. These include a desire to maintain autonomy, a need for specialty applications, wanting to preserve vendor independence and so on. You can find a comprehensive list on page 12 of the white paper.

What would be the kind of problems encountered when managing different vendors’ platforms with their own tools?

As each VoIP platform comes with its own configuration and management tools, interfaces, terminology and user skill requirements, there is inevitably increased complexity. And there is no synergy between management techniques, user interfaces, thresholds and reports so you may have to employ vendor-specialist staff to manage each platform.

Secondly, and most importantly of all, there is no correlation between the platforms themselves and the performance of the ecosystems that support them. Prognosis allows you to manage the entire VoIP ecosystem, including multiple versions, technologies, vendors, customers and locations from a single user interface.

Why do you believe it’s important to offer multi-vendor IPT monitoring?

The best way to create efficiency is through familiarity with one product and one user interface. This means that you don’t have to install, load and unload multiple software clients or swap from one set of terminology to another, learn shortcuts and gain deep product knowledge for multiple products.

The value and synergy obtained from managing complex, distributed multi-vendor IPT environments include savings in effort, knowledge-transfer and training. And it positions you well to monitor additional platforms in future. You can leverage the knowledge you gain managing one platform to manage others and improve the reach and productivity of support staff.

Does this benefit service providers as well as enterprises?

Most definitely. We refer to this as multi-tenancy. Service providers can manage their customers, irrespective of location, platform or technologies from a single user interface. A secure connection to each customer ensures that monitored environments are kept separate from each other. From the customer’s perspective they can access data about their site via a secured web browser interface which is provided by the service provider.

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