• United States
Director, Network World Test Alliance

Best Products: Convergence

Feb 27, 20066 mins

Winning companies: ClearSight Networks and Interwise

Winning Product: ClearSight Analyzer and ECP Connect

ClearSight Analyzer

Our test of VoIP analysis tools was one of the most widely read online stories last year. So it’s fitting that the top performer in that test, ClearSight Networks‘ ClearSight Analyzer, with a score of 4.7 out of 5, is in one of the two winning spots in the Convergence category.

In this Clear Choice Test, we evaluated products aimed at helping VoIP network managers monitor and troubleshoot IP telephony environments and ensure call continuity. ClearSight Analyzer warranted high praise for its extreme ease of use and its capability to analyze a wide range of VoIP protocols. Ed Mier, a Network World Lab Alliance partner and founder of network test consultancy Miercom, conducted the testing of this burgeoning product class.

In our tests, ClearSight’s software-only Analyzer ran on a Windows XP laptop, where it sniffed passing traffic and captured all the packets traveling on the network. The product then analyzed the VoIP traffic and associated the VoIP-specific packets with the proper conversation.

Miercom gave the ClearSight Analyzer high points for its ability to serve up pertinent, real-time facts. These include caller destination, vocoder in use and other details about current VoIP calls, bandwidth consumption, IP addresses of key VoIP nodes and endpoints, and latency, jitter and packet loss for VoIP calls between two distributed sites.

Convergence finalists  

While we tested ClearSight Analyzer 4.0, the company rolled out Version 5.0 last month. In that new bundle, ClearSight added real-time application and protocol support for Citrix Terminal Services, Microsoft Exchange and the Real Time Streaming Protocol; HTTP flow reassembly; and support for Wi-Fi packets on Ethernet with Wired Equivalent Privacy decryption and new video and voice codecs.

Analyzer 5.0 includes a variety of new setup wizards and configurable reporting functions. With an optional History Reporter, users can track VoIP issues over time.

On the business side, privately held ClearSight completed two big distribution deals with Tadiran Telecom and Interactive Intelligence. Both of these VoIP providers have chosen to bundle ClearSight Analyzer with their product and services offerings.

ClearSight’s leadership changed hands recently with the appointments of Masaru Gomi as CEO, Osamu Tomita as vice president of marketing, Vic Forgetta as vice president of North American sales and Tim O’Neill, one of the original employees, as vice president of business and technology development.

PRODUCT MASTERMIND:, vice president of engineering and technology

Samuel Li

Job duties: Li manages a development team of 20 engineers and oversees the quality- assurance lab. In the bigger picture, Li takes the requirements expressed by customers as well as new technology demands and tailors the product to match them.

Favorite features: “The real-time view of actual applications communicating between the users, VoIP nodes and servers throughout the network. The ability to, in one simple view, determine if there is a network issue, a server issue, an application issue or an issue with a user misusing the network or application.”

USER TAKE:, general manager, Valparaiso Broadband Communication Systems, in Valparaiso, Fla.

Burt Bennett

Deployment: Has been using ClearSight Analyzer for about six years.

Favorite feature: “My favorite is the GUI, and favorite capability [is] the filter creation.”

Business benefits: “[We] have benefited by being able to easily identify network traffic and problems in real time, [which] … leads to cost-effective network management.”

ECP Connect

Ignoring the 4.8 out of 5 points Interwise received for ECP Connect would be awfully tough.

In last year’s global test of voice and videoconferencing services and products, Lab Alliance member Christine Perey lauded Interwise for its “rich feature set, yet easy-to-use Web conferencing service. It delivered a flawless performance every time we initiated a rich- media meeting with people who had (and who hadn’t) previously downloaded the software and offered optimal levels of management and security for enterprise IT managers.”

ECP Connect offers responsive desktop-, application- and file-sharing for people on networks with different bandwidths, and had well-integrated whiteboard tools, co-browsing and simple polling. Even the video over IP feature was flexible in an ECP-based meeting, though this feature did need some work (hence the 0.2 deduction off a perfect score).

Since our testing, Interwise has added many features to the ECP Connect service. ECP Connect includes a fully integrated voice-conferencing capability. The company says this can help reduce voice-conferencing costs on average between $150 and $200 per person, per year. Users can access a conference using either their telephones or computers – escalating from a phone to the desktop or vice versa – without incurring any minutes charges, as the service covers any volume of conferencing for a fixed price.

Other new features include My Meeting Room (which gives access to a personal, secure meeting room for ad hoc Web or voice conferences); integrated onsite or hosted service deployment options and integration with single sign-on and reverse proxy systems. Certification with Nortel’s Communication Server 1000 is expected this quarter.

FUTURE TESTS: In addition to our recently published test of how VoIP traffic is supported by SSL VPNs, our 2006 lineup includes a comparative test of enterprise session border controllers and another round of VoIP analysis tools testing. We’ll also do a roundup of gear that can handle VoIP over wireless communications and assess the overall state of VoIP over wireless.

PRODUCT MASTERMIND:, vice president of product management and marketing

Neil Lieberman

Job duties: Lieberman assesses market dynamics, customer requirements and technology developments to determine product requirements.

Favorite features: “It’s a tie between two features. First is the ability to seamlessly move between traditional TDM audio and VoIP within a meeting — and be automatically identified and bridged in by the technology. . . . My other favorite feature is that we integrate our premises software and hosted service into a single, integrated hybrid deployment. This helps enterprises move forward with onsite conferencing technology, but at a worry-free pace. Once using on-site, the savings are tremendous — think of a company spending $2 million a year on Web and voice conferencing. We are able to cut that in half.”

USER TAKE:, director of systems training and global support center, International Game Technology, in Reno, Nev.

Shawn Derifield

Deployment: Began using the Web conferencing service four years ago for Web meetings. Now uses iMeeting for online employee and customer training, live instructor-led training, and brainstorming and strategic planning meetings.

Favorite feature: “VoIP and the strength of the voice quality, and the integration of all the connectivity pieces. It doesn’t matter if we have people on the road, on cell phones or at their desktop using their computers. With the new technology, users can pretty seamlessly choose between those media.”

Business benefits: “The main benefit has been responsiveness to the customer. We can provide them a learning solution no matter where they’re at or what time of day it is.”

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