Martello BLOG : 2014

Much has been said lately about the impending death of premises-based unified communications, and the growth of cloud-hosted solutions. Infonetics’ annual business cloud VoIP and UC services report forecasts cloud-based UC revenue growth of 13% this year, following a 20% increase in 2013. While premises-based UC dominates today’s installed base, its growth forecast is flat, with only a .01% revenue increase expected this year. By 2018, Infonetics expects a worldwide cloud PBX and UC market of $12 billion, with 62.6 million seats in service.

There are plenty of good reasons why cloud-based UC appeals to organizations – starting with the pay as you go model that reduces capital outlay. Just as appealing to corporate IT departments is the chance to relinquish responsibility for managing and supporting a growing network of PBX hardware and software. As David Michels notes in Premises-Based UC Is Over: “UC complexity has spread like a cancer across IT. To troubleshoot a call, the modern telecom/IT professional is expected to be savvy with a series of UC applications, firewalls, SBCs, SIP, IP, virtualization, VLANs, wireless, and more”. By moving to the cloud, organizations shift the burden of support to cloud service providers.

So, for the corporate IT department, life gets easier with the adoption of cloud-based UC. For the cloud service provider faced with managing these complex environments, there is both opportunity and threat. Those who manage this complexity successfully get an edge on their competition – but it’s not an easy task, and poor service quality drives customers away quickly.
Tools that help service providers deliver UC service quality more easily are gaining traction amongst cloud-based service providers. Software offering actionable data on problems that can impact service quality, delivered in real-time, makes the service provider more proactive in preventing service quality degradation. Offloading much of the work of monitoring and pinpointing the source of a problem to software like Mitel Performance Analytics is a better use of service provider resources and delivers better outcomes.

A recent study on Johns Hopkins Hospital addressed the rising alarm rate (a whopping 350  alarm conditions per bed, per day on average) in hospitals, and the dangers resulting from ‘alarm fatigue’ – the desensitization of staff to alarms. Alarm fatigue in hospitals has resulted from too many monitoring devices, alarm thresholds set too low, duplicate alarms and false positives.

What does all of this have to do with IT? Though lives are typically not in danger from a missed alarm in IT, alarm fatigue can negatively impact productivity. An array of multi-vendor devices generate alarms – often with little user control over alarm conditions or prioritization of alarm severity.

Preventing IT Alarm Fatigue

What’s the solution? In the Mitel unified communications network, Mitel Performance Analytics’ (MPA) sophisticated alarm management can eliminate spurious and duplicate alarms, while giving IT professionals the data they need to action each alarm. Here’s a closer look at how MPA manages alarms:Real Time Alerts

  • Alarms for devices that are known to be faulty or under maintenance are eliminated by placing them in ‘Maintenance Mode’.
  • You can choose to receive only the most severe alarms. This is particularly useful on weekends or off hours, ensuring you’re only dealing with critical events.
  • Alarms from other devices and applications, such as MiVoice Business and MiContact Center are integrated with Mitel Performance Analytics, consolidating alarm management.
  • Alarm reports identify the top 10 most critical devices – those with the highest number of new critical alarms, so you can quickly focus on the biggest problems.
  • Multiple alert profiles can be created, ensuring the right people receive the right kind of alerts using their preferred method (email, SMS, Twitter).

 

Mitel unified communications (UC) equipment is popular in the education community, favoured for its flexible and budget-friendly business communications tools. Mitel authorizedPARTNER MXN Corporation works closely with a number of school boards, colleges and universities. MXN uses Mitel Performance Analytics (MPA), UC Performance Management solution to simplify monitoring and management of Mitel UC systems in schools. We asked MXN VP of Product Development Michael Lippman for his observations.

Q: Why have you deployed Mitel Performance Analytics for your education customers?
MXN: Everyone wants to save money, but schools are really working with lean IT teams. MPA makes sense from this perspective. It’s a fairly low cost way to let the software do the legwork of monitoring multiple devices, alerting IT staff quickly when a problem is detected. Then, with secure remote access, you can troubleshoot equipment without leaving your desk – eliminating the cost of travel to multiple locations.

Q: What sets MPA apart from other UC monitoring and monitoring solutions?
Dashboard_parts
MXN: We’ve used competing solutions in the past, and we’ve found MPA to be the better solution for management of Mitel systems. MPA gives us greater visibility, empowering the customer with key data such as voice quality ratings, CPU and memory utilization, ping time and license usage. A key drawback of other solutions is their complexity – the presentation of information is overwhelming and it’s difficult to use the data effectively. MPA offers simplicity – the right information, presented in the most useful way. In fact, we like it so much that we’re including the dashboard as part of our ePortal program. Customers will receive secure tablets that include the MPA dashboard alongside other tools, such as HVAC and video. This gives IT and Facilities staff a simple way to access information on their systems.

Q: How is the education sector unique in terms of its UC management needs?
MXN: I’ve touched on the subject of budget. Another consideration for schools is emergency preparedness. Voice lines and other communications such as SMS can become a lifeline in emergency situations, so it’s important that these systems are there when they are needed most. MPA helps keep them running optimally around the clock. Also, school boards and universities tend to operate across multiple locations and campuses, making network management an even greater challenge. MPA not only simplifies this with 24/7 monitoring, alerts and remote access, it helps with planning.

Q: How does MPA help universities and schools with planning and forecasting?
MXN: Interestingly enough, the reporting feature of MPA recently helped us make the sale to a university. After viewing the reports wedetailed-reporting can generate from MPA  – showing voice quality, device availability statistics, alarm trends, and memory utilization over a period, the customer was sold. For schools, the MPA reports can help with capacity planning – knowing when to move to SIP, for example.

From cost-effective troubleshooting to capacity planning, MPA simplifies the task of managing UC service quality and maintaining uptime in schools.