“What happened to VoIP?”  This is one of the first questions people have asked about the new Orion module, IP SLA Manager.  The answer is nothing has happened to the old VoIP module; we just made it better.  Before I elaborate, let me take a few steps back.

Cisco has this really cool technology called IP SLA which enables you, the network engineer, to run a series of tests that can help you assess the health of your network from the perspectives of each of your remote sites.  Why is this important?  You may know everything is fine between you and your office in New York, and you may know everything is also fine between you and your office in San Francisco, but what about connectivity between San Francisco and New York?  This is where IP SLA can help.

These tests are actually called ‘operations’ in IP SLA lingo. For example, if you wanted to check call paths between your VoIP call managers, you would create a VoIP UDP Jitter operation, specifying one device as the source and the other as a target.  Once you’ve created the operation, you can start collecting call path metrics between those devices.  This and other similar use cases are what drove us to release the VoIP module for Orion.

As it turns out, IP SLA supports many operations other than just VoIP, things like measuring the round trip time to access a web page (HTTP), or measuring the time it takes to request and receive a reply from a DNS Server (DNS), or measuring the response times between IP SLA nodes (UDP Echo).  Many of you VoIP customers asked us to support these operations as well, and we have kindly obliged. We took the VoIP module, added support for these IP SLA operations (in addition to several others), and renamed the module ‘IP SLA Manager.’

Some of you are asking, 'I've already been creating IP SLA operations on my routers... what's so great about IP SLA Manager?"  The answer to this is ease of use.  If you've been manually creating operations using CLI, you will appreciate IP SLA Manager's easy to use web interface for creating IP SLA operations.  A wizard will walk you through the process, and, once operations have been created, Orion will start tracking historical data on these operations.

If you’d like to learn more about IP SLA, our Head Geek has a great video here.  We’ve also written a white paper on the ‘Basics of IP SLA,’ which you can find New to Networking Volume 2 - Basics of IP SLA .  Lastly, you can try out IP SLA Manager for free; you can download it here.