Using FCAPS for IP Telephony Management

An old tool that still works

Years ago, when I started studying Cisco stuff, I learned about the ISO Telecommunications Management Network model FCAPS - an acronym for Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, and Security. Although I don't read about the model much anymore, after studying the acronym many times in preparation for CCNP, CCDP, or CCIE written exams, it stuck with me. And it came in handy 4 months ago when we started tackling IP Telephony management. The FCAPS model is a great way to conceptualize what you need to track in any environment; in our case IP Telephony. Explaining a bit on each part:

  • Fault - tracking negative events; essentially up/down in the environment, but can be other issues as well.
  • Configurations - tracking, storing, and automating configurations in the environment. For example, knowing when one of your eager network engineers adds a line to an ACL that blocks DNS (no, that never happens!).
  • Accounting - usage statistics. Think of using call detail records to track phone calls.
  • Performance - one of my favorite areas which I have blogged about in the past.
  • Security - controlling access to the environment.

In our case, we have a Cisco IP Telephony environment that works very well, but was not being proactively monitored. Thus, to ensure proper operations monitoring and to provide needed information for my engineering team, one of my engineers was task to create a list of management features we needed. To help get him started I recommended FCAPs. FCAPS provided an easy way to conceptualize what was needed and a great way to organize the new features. By understanding what each letter meant - like "F" for fault - he could see things that needed to be tracked. The requirements list was then easy to create. Here's what we came up with:

Fault Ping CCM devices servers and gateways. Enable SNMP traps from all IPT infrastructure equipment - determine if it's a critical alert. Monitor up/down status of PRIs. Check/Verify that the CCM server services are running on the publisher/subscriber. Check/Verify that the Unity/Exchange servers are running and active. Verify that CCM and Unity backs have been completed - check systems for backup ok or failure errors and verify back files are copied to storage. PRI error notifications - if a certain percentage of errors occur on a PRI send an alert. Topology view of Cisco Call Manager servers, Unity and Exchange servers, and Voice gateways. Discover call quality problems and determine the cause of the call quality issue, Voice gateway syslog capture and proactive analysis. Tool to verify that CCM admin and user links are online. Create custom scripts to check or test call manager features. Proactive monitoring and review of Call Manager syslogs. Configuration Monitor configuration changes on Call Manager & Unity. Monitor configuration changes on gateways. Accounting Call Detail Record (CDR) historical and real-time reports - call volume, peak usage by time of day, etc. Data collection and storage of IP traffic for analysis - playback RTP streams. Performance Perform real-time traffic reports - parsing the data and VOIP traffic. CPU and DSP utilization on voice gateways at all locations. Measure in real-time the latency, jitter, packet loss, and mean opinion score (MOS) - run a real-time report. Generate QoS reports showing drops VOIP queue. Trunk utilization (PRI and QSIG) on voice gateway. Perform trend analysis and capacity planning. Track CPU utilization on call manager and unity servers. Security

We have about 50% of these implemented now and continue to work on the rest. FCAPS gave us the structure to define what we needed and now we are actively monitoring our IP Telephony environment. An old tool that still works.

More >From the Field blog entries:

Not a Lot of Excitement for Networkers This Year?

Cisco ASA IP Phone Proxy - My New BFF

Too Many IOS Versions, Something's Gotta Give Soon

(Network) Engineering a Merger

Applying Accounting Measures to Data Networking Financial Performance

Is RTP Becoming a Favored Location for Data Centers?

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