Is your network blind to video traffic?

5 tools to monitor and manage video in the enterprise

videoconferencing

Cisco predicts that 73% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2017. Whether we’ll reach that level remains to be seen, but we have observed significant increases and it is reasonable to assume that much of that traffic will creep into enterprise networks. If you’re looking for a tool to help monitor and manage video, the options aren’t all that clear. Vendors with the most powerful tools have focused on the service provider market. These include IneoQuest, Telchemy, JDSU and IXIA. Traditional enterprise network monitoring companies haven’t focused all that much on video. Here’s an analysis of five of the top vendors.

Telchemy
Telchemy

Telchemy’s VQMon measures almost every critical parameter of all types of video.  Coupled with Telchemy’s SQProbe 3.0, users can measure loss, jitter, and estimate MOS (mean opinion scores) and R-factor scores for video quality. For mpeg transport streams, such as IPTV and Apple HLS, SQProbe will detect I, P, and B frames and report standard metrics. The stellar achievement of Telchemy’s software is the ability to analyze Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft HTTP streams. As companies become more dependent on delivering sales presentations, product descriptions, training, and executive briefings, the ability to support this form of video is going to become critical.

IneoQuest
IneoQuest

VeriStream is an IneoQuest tool that targets adaptive streams like those of Adobe, Microsoft, Apple and YouTube. It’s aimed at the service provider market, but there is no reason it can’t be used in the enterprise. VeriStream determines if the server is transferring video at the same rate as it’s being viewed. Consequently, it can predict the likelihood there will be rebuffering or loss from oversupply of content. IPTV is Ineoquest’s strong suit. They completely decode and present the critical information about an mpeg transport stream. You’ll be able to tie channel numbers to UDP ports, get measurements of the video quality, and find a myriad of other useful statistics.  Unfortunately, IneoQuest doesn’t have good tools for videoconferencing analysis.

Cisco
Cisco

The set of tools that come from Cisco is comprehensive. However, use is limited if network devices and endpoints aren’t Cisco-centric. The key ingredient in the architecture, called Medianet, is the software agent Media Services Interface (MSI). With that module installed in key endpoints and network devices, Cisco says they will detect nearly every form of video flowing on the network, including conference endpoints, security cameras, and unified communications clients.  Traffic can be identified, have flow quality methods applied, and traffic statistics gathered.

Wireshark
Wireshark

Free tools should never be overlooked and Wireshark has some remarkable capabilities. Video calls set up by devices using H.323 or SIP will be detected.  Key statistics about the flows will be available in a format familiar to those who worked with VoIP. While it doesn’t have features targeted to adaptive streams such as Flash, Silverlight and Apple HLS; it will decode the mpeg packets carried in the payload. You need to be well versed in how to filter traffic from your streaming servers to get the most out of Wireshark, as unfiltered capture files will routinely contain hundreds of thousands of packets. Wireshark developers need to find user-friendly screens that will help users monitoring security video and adaptive video.

Network Instruments (JDSU)
Network Instruments (JDSU)

Network Instruments has been a major player in the data analysis, VoIP and video conferencing area over the years. It was recently acquired by JDSU.  Featuring the ability to capture vast amounts of data for post capture analysis, they position their GigaStor product with Observer management interface software as an enterprise tool for network forensics. Observer has an interface somewhat similar to Wireshark, but underneath it’s very much different from a video perspective. It has the ability to identify video flows that use RTP or RTSP. So, it’s useful for analyzing conferencing and security video traffic. This is the only enterprise product that has the capability to compete with IneoQuest and Telchemy.