Brix Tools Keep VoIP Calls Clear, But Not EasilyBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-10-01 Email Print
Brix Networks wins applause for its call-quality testing technology, but some say the software is like a complicated "scientific instrument."
Brix is the fly on the wall of some very big Internet Protocol telephony networks: Its system constantly places test calls to listen for signs that voice quality is dropping off. Customers say its approachchecking whether an actual voice call sounds OKsets Brix apart from network-monitoring packages that look only at isolated performance metrics. Some, though, say you practically need a degree in statistics to set up the Brix software.
Fidelity Investments uses Brix to monitor quality for about 3,000 IP phones at dozens of international offices. (It's also an investor in Brix.) Recently, one of Fidelity's service providers was dropping packetsbits of a voice or data transmissionwhich was degrading call quality at several offices, says Mike Brady, Fidelity's senior vice president of telecommunications. Only Brix detected the problem, according to Brady: "None of the traditional network-alerting tools picked it up." With Brix, "we're finding issues before end users notice," he says.
For Primus Telecommunications Canada, an Internet service provider in Toronto, Brix helped dramatically cut the time needed to resolve IP telephony tech support calls. Matt Stein, vice president of new technology and services at the company, says it used to take an average of 6 minutes for a technician just to discover the reason for a customer's complaint; now, Brix provides the data within 30 seconds. "If somebody calls and says they have a problem, the tech support rep knows exactly what the quality should be," Stein says.
Meanwhile, Internet telephony service provider Net2Phone used Brix to pinpoint a problem in its proprietary call-processing software that was causing 1 of every 100,000 calls to drop, according to Romel Khan, the company's director of voice engineering. "Without Brix, we didn't have any way to find this level of detail," Khan says.
But Brix' software, originally designed for telecommunications companies, is a complicated "scientific instrument," says David Holmes, a senior engineering technician for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "It takes a lot of work to set up properly." For example, he says, setting service-level thresholds is a long, manual process. Holmes adds, though, that once in place, Brix provides "a level of confidence in the capabilities of the networkthere's no guessing."
Revenue, 2004: $17.5 million (Experian estimate)
Funding: $61.5 million in five rounds
Investors: Castile Ventures, Charles River Ventures, ComVentures, Fidelity Ventures, Partech International, STAR Ventures, Telus Ventures
No. of customers claimed: 60
Juniper Networks, Oracle, Pingtel,
Portal Software, Psytechnics, Sun Microsystems, SupportSoft, Telchemy
SOURCES: COMPANY REPORTS, EXPERIAN
Telecommunications: America Online, Comcast, Cox Communications, Level 3 Communications, Net2Phone,
Qwest Communications International, Sprint, Telstra (Australia)
Financial services: Aetna, Fidelity Investments
Government: U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs