3 Steps for Improved Troubleshooting of Multivendor Unified Communication and Collaboration Services3 Steps for Improved Troubleshooting of Multivendor Unified Communication and Collaboration Services
Use packet-monitoring strategy, third-party data to set baselines, more quickly resolve performance issues.
September 27, 2023
Since the pandemic, large companies and organizations have increasingly relied on unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platforms to keep their employees connected and productive. However, many have found that increased use of UCaaS or UCC services has also led to increased technical challenges, even several years later.
In fact, even though employers are increasingly asking employees to return to the workplace, 3 in 10 IT leaders say that issues with UCC platforms continue to make up a majority of their help desk tickets. These same IT leaders report managing a growing number of platforms from various vendors, and in the face of this challenge, most rely on vendor-provided data to troubleshoot common UCaaS issues such as audio or video quality, connection delays and login issues.
Need for More Efficient UcaaS Troubleshooting
The research shows these challenges are usually resolved in a few hours, but in some cases, resolution may take days or even weeks. Considering 75% of companies plan to increase the number of UCaaS platforms their employees use this year, more efficient troubleshooting methods are needed. Below, we will explore three steps IT help desks can take to shorten troubleshooting time in a multivendor environment.
Establish a comprehensive packet-monitoring strategy. For most enterprises, performance dashboards provided by platforms such as Zoom are the primary, if not only, source of hard data into UCaaS performance. Indeed, just 23% of IT leaders reported using a third-party packet-monitoring tool, while 6% said they’ve developed home-grown monitoring solutions. For the other two-thirds of organizations that rely exclusively on vendor-supplied data, only half are satisfied with the resources available for troubleshooting.
For many organizations, adopting a more comprehensive monitoring strategy is a key first step needed to identify and address potential issues. Here are a few key aspects to consider when designing a monitoring strategy:
Centralized monitoring: Implement a centralized monitoring system that can collect and analyze data from various UCC solutions across different vendors. This centralization enables a holistic view of the entire infrastructure, simplifying troubleshooting efforts.
Real-time monitoring: Use real-time monitoring tools to track the performance of UCC services across all locations. This ensures prompt detection of anomalies or performance degradation, enabling proactive troubleshooting.
Threshold alerting: Define threshold levels for various metrics, such as call quality, network latency and server response time. When these thresholds are exceeded, automatic alerts should be triggered, notifying IT teams about potential issues that require attention.
Scalability and flexibility: Ensure that the monitoring system is scalable and can accommodate the growth of the UCC environment. Additionally, it should be flexible enough to integrate new vendors or technologies seamlessly.
Once a comprehensive monitoring strategy has been established, IT teams are more prepared to troubleshoot issues and work with vendors to resolve more trying issues. Most importantly, they now have an independent data source to validate performance claims.
Collaborate with vendors. Sometimes communication with vendors is essential to ensure effective UCC performance across environments and usage patterns. Let’s consider an example of when that might be the case.
Let’s say that several employees begin to report delays in joining calls when they use Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The team from IT tasked with looking into the issue looks under the hood of …
… these systems and examines each vendor’s dashboard for clues. However, all they see are green performance indicators across the board.
When IT is left to guess at root causes, especially when supporting multiple platforms and a distributed hybrid workforce spread out across many environments, any number of issues could be wrong. From the vendor’s perspective, everything may look fine. But without independent external data, it may take several hours of troubleshooting to determine and resolve the problem. Thankfully, vendor-independent packet monitoring solutions allow teams to set baselines and performance thresholds, arming help desks with the network context needed to collaborate with vendors and test new solutions when performance degrades.
Dig into performance metrics that matter. Supporting UCaaS services delivered across networks and connecting infrastructures to ensure positive user experiences has become more difficult for IT professionals who lack comprehensive visibility. (“UCaaS Requires End-to-End Visibility to Assure Positive User … – NETSCOUT”) For example, low-quality or unreliable internet connections, difficulties with VPN tunnels, decreased performance of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), security concerns and unexplained performance issues can all harm the user experience. However, with end-to-end monitoring in place, IT teams can probe issues like these that may not show up on vendor dashboards, such as seeking for evidence of latency, packet loss, quality-of-service (QoS) misconfigurations, poor mean opinion score (MOS) ratings and jitter.
Additionally, to address these issues proactively, IT teams should consider implementing user-experience synthetic testing and trend analysis, so that even when users aren’t active, organizations can identify degradations in performance. And by getting ahead of issues early in their life cycle, before users are even aware of emerging issues, IT teams can deliver a more seamless experience.
Challenge of Supporting Myriad Platforms
In summary, one thing is clear: UCC and UCaaS platforms have become integral to business operations. Even after several years of hybrid work, and the growing migration of workers returning to the office, organizations are investing in more platforms, not fewer.
We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.
Supporting these services across so many environments is no small task, however, as evidenced by the huge volume of requests help desks receive daily. Research shows that many issues can be resolved within a few hours. But for more advanced challenges — especially those that don’t appear on vendor dashboards — more detailed monitoring and third-party data may be needed to determine root causes. To shorten troubleshooting, organizations should establish a comprehensive packet-monitoring strategy to arm IT teams with the data they need to set baselines, communicate with vendors and resolve performance issues before they impact operations and the end-user experience.
Eileen Haggerty is area vice president of product and solutions marketing at NetScout Systems. Before joining NetScout she worked in technical marketing roles at Motorola Codex, Racal Data Group and Celox Networks. Haggerty has an MBA from Boston College. You may follow her on LinkedIn or @NETSCOUT on X.
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