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Apparent Networks' AppareNet Voice Professional

Voice Professional comprises a server, database and sequencers, which are nothing more than remote Java agents that send ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) packets across the network. Sequencers are configured and monitored from the server. In our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®, I tested Voice Professional's batch facility to schedule tests that run in the background. Test results were stored in the included Microsoft Desktop Engine SQL database (Microsoft SQL Server is also supported). An included copy of Crystal Reports will report such results, though the database can be queried for ad hoc reporting.

Spotting Jams

Voice Professional uses a proprietary formula to determine network utilization and bandwidth. The sequencers ride the same networked path as regular traffic to identify bottlenecks. It may seem like the only way to get data is through SNMP or direct access, but that's a part of AppareNet's secret sauce. You can find a condensed version of the explanation and links to the marketing-spin-free white papers on AppareNet's Web site.

The additional network load resulting from my tests was less than 1 percent of a 10-Mbps link. That's because Voice Professional doesn't dive deep into packet capture, SNMP collection or session-layer analysis like most network probes and network-management products do. In fact, it doesn't require probes at each network-aggregation segment. Rather, it examines Layer 3 performance to determine where and why voice traffic is having problems.

All this is done without specialized agents on application servers. Synthetic transactions and specialized application or topology knowledge also are unnecessary because Voice Professional mainly uses ICMP and some UDP to test network performance.

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