The VoIP management challenge
Enterprise network managers are implementing VoIP, but how are they managing these installations? Here are four tools to simplify the taskFollow @infoworld
Another interesting Abacus feature is trunking. Trunking will aggregate a large number of calls to the PBX as if they were coming in from a gateway or T1/E1 channelized telco circuit, or as if a number of calls were coming in from another PBX over the Ethernet. That means the Abacus can test a large number of phones over a variety of links, and it can test them in a variety of implementations.
Abacus' only catch is that it assumes that any products it tests adhere strictly to published standards. But as we discovered during InfoWorld's recent VoIP PBX test, the VoIP industry rarely does this.
We used the Abacus as the central test device in that review of four VoIP PBX products. Three of those four PBXs had tweaked their implementation of the SIP or H.323 protocol enough to flummox the Abacus and require dedicated fix upgrades from Spirent's technical staff. The device that stuck strictly to the SIP standard easily completed all the Abacus' tests.
This standards-tweaking forced Spirent to spend an amazing amount of engineer time working with each VoIP vendor in our PBX review so that each would handle exceptions. Although this sounds like a real problem, keep in mind that the Abacus seems to have been designed by telco engineers, and the telco world is built around the strict implementation of standards.
Still, standards-tweaking and extra engineering fixes can't continue to be the norm. Extending simple protocols such as SIP and H.323 may provide custom features, but the VoIP marketplace can't allow noninterchangeable, nonstandard phone systems for much longer. The effort required to integrate systems is simply too big a financial burden for service providers or large enterprises to bear.
Even with this caveat, the Abacus isn't designed for enterprise VoIP network management. Although it's certainly flexible enough to manage such tasks, its price point and engineering focus just don't extend in that direction. This is a VoIP device testing tool for telcos and at that job, it truly excels.