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What UC monitoring tools are most important?

Our expert explains the UC monitoring tools you need and the potential network problems you may discover in your UC and collaboration environments.

Monitoring in a unified communications environment is the same as monitoring in any other network environment. The first step is to understand that a monitoring setup can create problems if it isn't done properly. Poorly executed UC monitoring tools can cause issues that slow everything down as they examine traffic.

You can turn on Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and examine the findings at a previously specified increment. Not all hardware will have SNMP functionality, however, which limits what types of UC monitoring can be performed.

Understanding the types of errors that arise in a UC environment is essential for UC monitoring tools. Latency, dropped packets and retransmissions can be either hardware-related or cable-plant-related. One simply has to research cabling disasters to realize that not all cabling jobs are equal, so having cables in good working order is important.

If the cable plant is set up correctly and passes test parameters, the next step is to look at the transmitting and receiving hardware, such as a switch, server or workstation network interface card. In some cases, the tools to do this will be included with your smart hardware.

If your hardware doesn't support any type of error monitoring, look for network analyzers that can help. It may be as easy as process of elimination to figure out where problems exist. You can also look into network taps, which mirror network packets to another network for storage and analysis. How you find problems depends on your environment, but having a cable tester, a network protocol certifier or traffic monitor will go a long way toward understanding your network paths. 

Use a UC monitoring tool that offers an auto-discovery service to map the devices on your network. Auto-discovery will create traffic as it maps, so it's best to run the service during noncritical times. As for unified computing systems (UCS), the software you use should come with some helpful tools. Any managed switches should also come with monitoring tools

More complex collaboration environments may require a different path, with a more sophisticated tool set. But, at the end of the day, UCS packets are data packets. If you can monitor data packets, it really doesn't matter if some are UCS and some are not. You can also add a traffic generator to test the network if you are trying to do some proof-of-concept or network planning.

Do you have a question for Carrie Higbe Goetz or any other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

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