Thursday, June 12, 2008

Acme Packet Extends Service Accountability Toolset

Acme Packet introduced a number of management extensions for its Net-Net family of session border controllers (SBC), multiservice security gateways (MSG) and session routing proxies (SRP). These enhancements include support for Acme Packet products by IBM Tivoli Netcool , as well as Acme Packet product enhancements: voice quality measurements using R-factor and MOS scoring; and customizable call detail records (CDRs) with any SIP message content.

Using Netcool, users can now manage Acme Packet products in addition to other network and service infrastructure elements. This support includes two Netcool applications: Netcool/OMNIbus, IBM's real-time event and fault management tool; and Netcool/Proviso, IBM's carrier-class performance management and service-level reporting software.

Acme Packet session border controllers (SBC) now calculate and report R-factor and mean opinion score (MOS) information for SIP calls. R-factor is a calculation of voice quality that uses the "E-Model" described in ITU-T G.107, taking into account QoS statistics as well as other voice impairment factors. MOS, the widely-accepted scalar representation of voice quality, is derived from the calculated R-factor. Reports may be generated either mid-call on a periodic basis or in end-of-call Call Detail Records (CDRs), which are compiled from statistics collected over the duration of the call.

For interim call quality reporting, R-factor and MOS scores are periodically calculated during the call, compiled into comma-separated value (CSV) formatted files and transferred to network management tools such as Infovista VistaBridge, which are able to generate real-time graphical representations of call quality data based on the R-factor calculations for each bi-directional media RTP flow. End-of-call quality reports are included in the SBC's RADIUS Call Detail Records.

R-factor and MOS scoring extend Acme Packet's portfolio of session quality of experience (QoE) measurement tools. They complement network Quality of Service (QoS) measurements of packet latency, jitter and loss, as well as signaling-based Answer Seizure Ratio (ASR) measurements of call completion rates. These tools enable more efficient troubleshooting, isolation and resolution of network and signaling infrastructure issues when call quality levels slip to sub-optimal levels and provide quantitative validation of service level agreement (SLA) compliance.

User-customizable CDRs allow Acme Packet customers to define vendor-specific attributes (VSAs) used to populate call detail records (CDRs) with content derived from SIP messages. In addition to the 140 predefined CDR fields already supported by the Acme Packet Net-Net family, 30 new fields can be populated with content from any user-defined portion of SIP messages, including SIP header information, Session Descriptor Protocol (SDP) parameters, embedded Extendible Markup Language (XML) and others.

A practical example of this important capability would be a service provider's ability to generate customized billing statements from Acme Packet CDRs that are the result of proprietary information generated by SIP-enabled equipment. Equipment vendors often incorporate proprietary fields in their SIP implementations, and service providers are unable to incorporate this information into useful accounting data due to its proprietary nature. Acme Packet's ability to modify the information and incorporate it into CDRs results in the service provider's ability to use the proprietary data in customer billing statements without requiring expensive changes to their own systems or forcing peering partners to make alterations to their own networks or back-end systems.

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