• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

Siemens’ HiPath 3500

Jul 15, 20033 mins
Unified CommunicationsVoIP

* The Reviewmeister continues to look at VoIP management tools

Continuing our tour of VoIP management tools, this week we look at HiPath Manager E from Siemens.

This tool was augmented in our evaluation by the company’s Manager I application that separately handles many of the IP-specific aspects of the system, and the Deployment Tool that discovers and status-checks IP hard phones.

These are all clean, clear and consistent Windows applications, with excellent, context-sensitive online help. Manager E connects directly to the HiPath 3500 call controller and obtains updated system data via a manual database download.

We also tested Siemens’ HiPath Fault Management tool, an SNMP-based application that collects all traps issued by the IP PBX. Siemens also submitted the Traffic Analyst tool with Impact CDR option, a third-party package for call-activity reporting from Impact Technologies.

Siemens’ strongest showing clearly was in configuration. Siemens met or exceeded all the criteria and tasks in that category through its Manager E and Manager I interfaces, coupled with the ability to Web-browse directly into any Siemens IP hard phone and set or change various VoIP parameters. Of the systems we tested, only Siemens supported this per-IP-phone Web-browser access.

These tools work together pretty well on a live, IP-oriented HiPath 3500 system as far as configuration, but they are fairly limited from most other perspectives. Siemens brought in an IP PBX configuration with two call controllers – essentially two discrete systems – for our simulated two-site topology.

Managing two discrete systems was disjointed and duplicative. Everything you did on one – defining numbering plan, call routing, IP-phone user templates – had to be redone for the second system. Siemens offers a high-level umbrella software package for managing multiple systems, the 5000 RSM, which synchronizes and consolidates certain management aspects. But with a starting price of $7,400 for a 5000 RSM that handles up to 15 call controllers, it is not economically viable for only two systems, and Siemens didn’t include it as part of its management tool kit for this review.

The HiPath Fault Manager provides an auto-discovered topology map, somewhat akin to what HP’s OpenView does, but Siemens’ is not a full-function SNMP manager. There’s no management information base browser for retrieving specific management values, for example. There’s a clean event log, but there’s no way for a user to set threshold values to control when events, in the form of SNMP traps, are issued. Overall, this tool is of limited practical use.

The third-party Traffic Analyst application works by manipulating the call detail records that the system sends it. However, there are not many useful IP-telephony-specific fields in the Siemens call-record format, so the reporting capabilities from an IP-telephony perspective are limited.

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