Ca_ Y_u Hear Me N_w? Voice Quality Issues Solved

Finally a referee has emerged to end the UC Voice blame game between IT staffs, VARs, phone system vendors, data centers, and managed cloud / WAN providers.Voice Quality Issues Solved

The tribe has spoken. A recent InformationWeek UC study found over 42 percent of businesses that purchased hosted voice are unhappy with either its performance and/or reliability.

In 2014, it’s staggering to think we have yet to figure out how to engineer a voice call to match the quality of experience of a basic POTS line. Voice Quality Issues need to stop taking over our lives.

VoIP was the cutting edge “killer app” in the early 2000’s – by all accounts the stone age of the Internet of Things. But why has poor performance been so hard to eradicate over the past decade and a half?

It would be great if we could just put enterprise voice in the penalty box and talk about it like it was the only offender. Video conferencing, the fastest growing killer app has been trashing networks now for the better part of six years.

It continues to cost companies tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to tame. Throw on mobile phones, SMS, live chat, email, presence, and internal political battles between IT, Sales, Marketing, and Finance and you’ve got yourself a mess impacting nearly every enterprise.

Technology: Good — Messy Technology: Badsmall__4362360913

Technology has never been cooler, nor messier, than it is now. Done right, Unified Communication (UC) makes it possible for sales forces, support organizations, and finance departments to communicate how they want, where they want, on the device they want; seamlessly and in real-time.

For UC to work, there are many different pieces of the puzzle that have to fit neatly together and play nice: The phone system server, the UC controllers, the data center that houses the system, the firewall protecting the network, the carrier’s network, inside wiring, Exchange server hardware, routers, switches, phone handsets, mobile phone apps, and the UC software clients.

Just one failure, or slowdown, anywhere in this matrix and … you …. have … a …. bad … never mind – … click!

Not only are there multiple failure points in UC, but the people responsible for each of these mini-kingdoms also have their own jobs to protect. It’s not unexpected that each administrator, sales person, and manager will do everything possible to blame someone else for dropping the digital ball if/when things head south.

Technology Innovation Conference Sheds Light

Recently I’ve been traveling around the country hosting 2-hour luncheons entitled the Technology Innovation Conference. My guest speakers, in my opinion two of the leading experts in the field of “Why does my voice quality suck-ology?” are Doug Tolley and Roger Blohm from LVM, creators of a product they call ‘VXSuite’.
Over the past 10 years they have developed software that can diagnose and pinpoint the cause of voice quality issues by marrying data outputs of every device that touches your data. Call it: the MRI machine for cloud voice applications.

What started out as a CDR (call detail report) analysis tool has morphed into a state-of-the-art application some of the largest VARs and integrators in the world are using to proactively peek inside the mind of their client’s networks and phone systems.

Their software (and hardware probes) can also simulate the effect of a new voice system, a new video deployment, or anything else on a network before its actually implemented.

VXSuite has saved many VAR ‘back-sides’ by letting them know their customer’s network is unfit for new UC features before being launched into a production environment.

For me, the real magic of VXSuite is that is can analyze all aspects of cloud communication, marrying the phone call records, video sessions, etc. with their effects on the network hardware, in real-time, together.

If a firewall server is locking up because of a denial of service attack, VXSuite will save hours of unnecessary time debugging the phone system or associated handsets. If a leased T1 line between a field office and HQ is saturated, VXSuite will let you know.

Even better, it can be programmed to text you if a single WAN connection goes above 80% utilization for any reason. QoS wrong? VXSuite will let you know that too.

Cars Need a Dashboard and Navigation!

Car with navigationHaving been in the telecom sales game for a dozen years, I’m somewhat shocked that we’ve all skated by for so long without actual performance data of what we sell!

To use an oversimplified metaphor, we sell cars (carrier WAN) without any dashboards; you don’t know how fast you’re going, how much fuel you have left, how hard your engine is working, or even the temperature of your engine. If we sold cars like that we’d be looking for work in about 5 minutes!

But we sell MPLS networks, SIP trunks/paths, and hosted PBX voice service with reckless abandon, without knowing if the customer is actually getting what they pay for.
That’s why I’m a VX-disciple.

In a complicated world where one bad link in the cloud chain can undo many millions of dollars of IT investment, having an ‘MRI’ machine to show us what exactly is happening inside the cloud, and even inside our own offices, is one tool that VARs and telecom agents won’t be able to live without for much longer.

That data tells a story, one that can change the nature of a relationship with a customer forever. You see, businesses buy technology from people who can make it work, and who play a role in its design and implementation.

Understanding VXSuite and the value it represents is the key ingredient for VARs and telecom agents looking to make their future on cloud island a profitable one.

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cable photo credit: ritcheyer via photopin cc
car photo credit: mroach via photopin cc

Patrick Oborn (3 Blog Posts)

Patrick is the co-Founder of Telarus and inventor/patent-holder of GeoQuote, the world's first real-time commercial telecom pricing engine. He's also a two-time Ironman, father of twins, graduate and proud supporter of BYU.