Cisco to Replace VoIP ToolsBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-10-01 Print
Cisco Systems is retiring its first product for monitoring Internet phone networks-and that's just as well, say some customers.
Is it the fox watching the henhouse? Maybe, but customers pick Cisco software to monitor their Cisco-based telephony networks because they figure the company knows its own gear backward and forward. To some, however, the networking champ's tool chest for monitoring IP telephony has been less than perfect.
Cisco apparently agreed: In September, the company said it will discontinue its initial offering in this area, the CiscoWorks IP Telephony Environment Monitor (ITEM) suite. Taking its place is a new productCiscoWorks IP Communications Operations Manager 1.0to be available in November.
That's just as well, say some customers. One of ITEM's shortcomings was that it couldn't monitor calls in progress, says Mark Melvin, director of solutions engineering at Apptis, a network consulting firm. ITEM "looks at the data after the call is finished," he says. "It's very difficult to troubleshoot a voice call after the fact." Apptis instead uses Qovia's tools to monitor call quality on its Cisco phone system. (Cisco says the new product will provide real-time call monitoring.)
For Norm Baxter, information-technology project leader for the city of Mississauga in Ontario, Canada, the new product still won't address another downside of Cisco's management tools: They're not consolidated. For example, a separate utility is needed for Cisco's CallManager server, such as to add new extensions. "Ideally, we'd have one tool that did everything," Baxter says.
Others say the move to Cisco IP telephony was a culture shock. Jack Leifel, CIO of Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill., says it was "a bit of a learning curve" to retrain his voice technicianswho were familiar with a 15-year-old, obsolete Siemens phone systemto use Cisco's management tools for its CallManager phone system. "Our administrators had to do a complete 180," he says.
But once staffers are familiar with it, Cisco CallManger is "extremely easy to manage," says Chris Smith, director of technology and communications for Bath Central School District in New York. Most important, he says, was the district's detailed deployment plan that identified performance problems before the phones were even plugged in. "That saved us all the headaches down the road," Smith says.
CISCO OPERATING RESULTS*
* Fiscal Year Ends in Late July
Source: Company Reports
Total assets - $33.88B
Stockholders' equity - $23.17B
Cash and equivalents - $4.74B
Short-term investments - $2.23B
Long-term debt - None
Shares outstanding - 6.48B
Market value, 9/22 - $113.6B
**As of July 30, 2005, except as noted
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