Within the government, particularly the U.S. Defense Department, video traffic—more specifically videoconference calling—often is considered mission critical.

 

The Defense Department uses video for a broad range of communications. One of the most critical uses is video teleconference (VTC) inside and outside of the United States and across multiple areas of responsibility. Daily briefings—via VTC over an Internet protocol (IP) connection—help keep everyone working in sync to accomplish the mission. So, you can see why it is so important for the network to be configured and monitored to ensure that VTCs operate effectively.

 

VTC and network administration tasks boil down to a few key points:

 

  • Ensuring the VTC system is up and operational (monitoring).
  • Setting up the connections to other endpoints (monitoring).
  • Ensuring that the VTC connection operates consistently during the call (quality of service) Troubleshooting at the VTC system level (VTC administration), and after the connection to the network, the network administrator takes over to ensure that the connection stays alive (monitoring/configuration).

 

Ensuring Quality of Service for Video over IP

 

The DOD has developed ways to ensure successful live-traffic streaming over an IP connection. These requirements focus on ensuring that video streaming has the low latency and high throughput needed among all endpoints of a VTC. Configuring the network to support effective VTCs is challenging, but it is done through implementing quality of service (QoS).

 

You can follow these four steps:

 

Step 1: Establish priorities. VTC traffic will need high priority. Email would likely have the lowest priority, while streaming video (vs. VTC) will likely have a low priority as well.

 

Step 2: Test your settings. Have you set up your QoS settings so that VTC traffic has the highest priority?

 

Step 3: Implement your settings. Consider an automated configuration management tool to speed the process and eliminate errors.

 

Step 4: Monitor your network. Once everything is in place, monitor to make sure policies are being enforced as planned and learn about network traffic.

 

Configuring and Monitoring the Network

 

Network configuration is no small task. Initial configuration and subsequent configuration management ensures routers are configured properly, traffic is prioritized as planned and video traffic is flowing smoothly.

 

Network configuration management software that automates the configuration tasks of implementing complex QoS settings can be useful, and should support the automation of:

 

  1. Pushing out QoS settings to the routers- QoS settings are fairly complex to implement. It is important that implementation of settings is not done manually, due to errors.
  2. Validating that the changes have been made correctly- After the settings are implemented on a router, it is important to back up and verify the configuration settings.
  3. Configuration change notification.

 

Network monitoring tools help validate critical network information, and should provide you with the following information:

 

  1. When and where is my network infrastructure busy?
  2. Who is using the network at those hot spots and for what purpose?
  3. When is the router dropping traffic, and what types of packets are being dropped?
  4. Identify if your side or the far side of the VTC call systems are up and operational.
  5. Identify via node and interface baselines to identify abnormal spikes during the day.

 

What are your best practices for ensuring video traffic gets through? Do you have any advice you can share?

 

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