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What Happened to VoIP, and what is Orion IP SLA Manager?

Level 15

“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 here.  Lastly, you can try out IP SLA Manager for free; you can download it here.

About the Author
Let me introduce myself.  My name is Craig McDonald, and I come from the land of video games and stock trading, sprinkled with identity management, and, by the way, I like to write.  Checkered past, you say?  How did you end up in network management, you ask?  Perfectly valid questions; I will connect the dots for you and it will all make sense shortly. I studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin where I had the opportunity to write for The Daily Texan and Texas Monthly.  Upon graduation I was faced with two options: move to a small town and start my career at an even smaller newspaper, or make a home in Austin and see where this crazy tech town would take me.  I chose the latter, and ended up working in support and managing QA for a popular MMORPG called Ultima Online (this was before WoW was a sparkle in Blizzard's eye). After a few years of policing the haXXorZ, overseeing a few in-game weddings, and shipping several expansion skus, I decided it was time for a change.  I remember the advice from one of my journalism professors when I asked about pursuing a graduate degree; his suggestion, "Go to business school!"  I heeded his advice, got accepted to the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, and started working on my MBA. While finishing my MBA at McCombs, I was presented with an opportunity to work for a company that developed online trading software (Charles Schwab, formerly CyberTrader).  This may seem a stretch from video games, but the client/server infrastructure and the uptime requirements for an MMORPG and a securities trading engine are quite similar.  Although the content and use cases are obviously very different, both require fast connections and the ability to allow users to log into the service at any time.  My next career move was into the enterprise software arena where I worked as a product manager for Sun Microsystems in the Identity Management space. Fast forward to today, I'm your newest product manager at SolarWinds.  I will be managing Toolset, VoiP, and eventually the Kiwi products.  Outside of the SolarWinds 'Borg' (assimilation is swift and definitive), I keep busy with my lovely wife, two beautiful kiddos, and a pug named Marley.  When they go to bed, I'm either watching a movie, reading a book (working on Atlas Shrugged, and it is work, indeed), or staring at the red circle of death on my XBOX 360.