Reclaiming “Probe” as an effective UC diagnostics tools

Matt Christopher

July 25, 2016

It all Started with the Extra Terrestrials

Since the alien abductions of the 1960’s, the term “probe” has been placed firmly in the paradigm of “uncomfortable”. Certainly, after hearing stories from the likes of Barney and Betty Hill, no one would trust the intentions of any entity leveraging a probe. Over the years, probes have become associated with other intrusive discomforts like investigations by government agencies or medical procedures we would rather not talk about.

Sales 101 – If You Can’t Compete, Reframe the Problem Statement

Sales strategy best practices dictate that when you clearly have the superior product, you leverage a “frontal” strategy.   If, however, your product is not the superior fit for market needs, you employ a “flanking” strategy. A flanking strategy tries to redefine the customer’s challenges in terms that your product can better address. In other words, ask the customer to ignore any value beyond the narrow spectrum of benefit your solution brings.

In the complex arena of UC monitoring and diagnostics, flanking seems to be the common practice of tools that can do pieces of the puzzle, but cannot offer full UC monitoring, diagnostics, and reporting solutions. It is not uncommon for some UC monitoring companies to try and capitalize on the tarnished “brand” of probes to misrepresent the value of network-based analyzers. These companies claim their monitoring tools can effectively diagnose a poor UC conversation and identify the root cause on the network “without probes”. Really?

These companies have to convince enterprises and service providers that it is better to monitor and diagnose without probes because they have neither the capability nor the data networking-paradigm knowledge to understand, let alone develop, the technology to effectively analyze UC traffic over the network. If you cannot understand how to diagnose issues with UC packets on the network, you have to flank and undermine those tools that actually use appliances in the network to analyze UC signaling and media packets. These monitoring tools providers blacklist “probes”, even though probes narrow the problem domain and correlate network events to help IT Pros effectively identify, diagnose, and remediate network issues that are impacting the communications traffic and the user experience.

What You Can Do With Probes

Since probes can sit on the network and analyze UC media and signaling packets in real time, they are able to better correlate network activity and identify the location and nature of network events that are impacting UC traffic. Specifically, the value of probes can be seen in these four use cases:

  1. Tracking Real Time Voice Quality
  2. Segmenting the Conversation
  3. Diagnosing Across Multiple Platforms
  4. Correlating SIP Signaling

Over the next 4 blog posts, we will explore each of these in greater detail.  For an expert viewpoint, see the recent white paper by Frost & Sullivan: You Know You Need to Monitor Your UCC Network: But What Isn’t the Data Telling You?