The Tool That Helps You Determine Root Cause Without Leaving Your Desk

A large global financial services group was having problems with their Avaya UC VoIP solution running on a Cisco data network. As soon as they deployed a tool from Avaya Support, they quickly identified Quality of Service issues at three major sites globally: routers were misconfigured and were not preserving the DSCP QoS tagging.

That’s right − an Avaya tool quickly identified a misconfiguration with Cisco routers in a global network. The tool is the SLA MonTM Server, part of the Avaya Diagnostic Server. It’s free, and I think you should be using it.

In-House Innovation

On a snowy Denver day in March 2010, one of the research scientists from Avaya Labs, Jean Meloche, presented a prototype that monitored performance monitoring of data networks using code embedded into the firmware of our phones.

We immediately saw this as a big value-add for our support customers, as customer-provided data network performance is crucial to proper operation of Avaya applications.

Under the guidance of Jean, the Avaya Client Services’ own R&D organization brought this prototype to market with patented technologies, launching SLA MonTM in 2013. While there are third-party vendors that offer similar capabilities in the market, SLA Mon™ is differentiated in two ways:

  1. We leverage the Avaya phones already spread throughout the customer network, instead of requiring new monitoring hardware or software to be deployed.
  2. SLA MonTM is a free entitlement to our customers with Support Advantage Preferred coverage on their Aura CM, or with support on Avaya Networking solutions.

Use Case

Imagine that an end-user reports poor audio quality on a phone call at 3 p.m. a few days ago. The IT department uses SLA MonTM to see how the data network was operating over that link at that timeframe and notices significant jitter.

The engineer has a hunch it was due to load, so she uses SLA MonTM to remotely control 50 phones, placing real phone calls on the network, while remotely doing a packet trace directly on the phones in question. With real-time confirmation that the jitter returned and the packet captures matching, she knows she has root cause. All that … without leaving her desk.

Creating Value in Support

This free application has many more capabilities than covered in the use case above, but hopefully I’ve given you a glimpse into how a tool like this can add real value to any VoIP customer.

There is a reason that Avaya doesn’t sell this application separately: we saw it as being very valuable in keeping our products running well and troubleshooting issues that came up, and so we bundled it into our Support Advantage Preferred coverage.

We know that Proactive Support − gathering data to avoid major outages − is key to our customers’ satisfaction. Simply, it is how support coverage creates real value in an enterprise.

By enabling our customers with tools like this, Avaya Support is leading the industry in support delivery. Furthermore, if the customer needs more assistance with an issue, the supporting party (Avaya or an Authorized Business Partner) can access the tool via SAL to quickly get to the root cause.

To learn more about the value of SLA MonTM Server, how it works and its various features, watch the 11-minute video below:

To learn more about installing, licensing, configuring, and using SLA Mon, check out our videos on YouTube.

Please be sure to read the other blogs in this series:

  1. How Switching to Proactive Customer Service Could Save You More Than $500,000
  2. Remote Connectivity: The Trick to Getting the Most Out of Avaya Support
  3. Customers Who Use This Tool Are 73% More Likely to Avoid an Outage

Contact or follow me on Twitter: @CarlKnerr

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Achieving Secure, Mission-Critical Technical Support is a Two-Way Street

Recently, an Avaya customer—a major global financial institution—encountered a pretty disruptive network issue. Avaya support technicians encountered roadblocks in resolving the issue, and the customer’s IT personnel were unhappy. As the issue escalated through Avaya support channels, it quickly became apparent that the customer’s internal security policies were thwarting Avaya efforts to look into the customer’s system to solve the problem.

You see, their IT personnel were not allowed to give Avaya technicians network access to capture the information necessary to properly diagnose and repair the issue. Cybersecurity was the concern. Avaya and the customer struggled for nearly a week without resolution.

To break the stalemate, a senior Avaya executive called the customer’s CIO and explained that without proper access, Avaya couldn’t resolve the issue. Once we explained how we secure the connection, the CIO gave permission, our remote access solution was brought online, the issue was diagnosed within 30 minutes, and then it was immediately resolved.

Three Keys to a Secure Remote Access Solution

Similar scenarios can be avoided if customer decision makers ask important questions upfront, before they buy technology solutions, about the measures their vendors take to provide both high-quality support services and security. Typically that will involve some sort of solution that provides remote network access. At Avaya, we call it Secure Access Link. Our Secure Access Link Gateway is the remote connectivity method that enables us to deliver rapid problem resolution, problem prevention, and solution optimization.

But not all solutions are equal. As you consider your next technology solution, consider the three key attributes of secure remote access:

  1. First, it should be smart.

    There should be flexible deployment options with minimal hardware and software requirements. It should enable efficient and timely delivery of service packs for software updates and easily integrate with automated and advanced diagnostics solutions. And when support is required, it should allow your personnel to connect with the vendor’s experts with a single click.

  2. You should have complete control.

    The solution should give you total approval/denial control over who accesses your network. If you do grant access, the solution should track and provide a detailed log of support activity so you see which vendor personnel did what and when while logged onto your network.

  3. It should provide high-level security.

    The solution should have no inbound connections into your enterprise—all connections should be strictly outbound from your datacenter so you have the ultimate control. The solution should feature host containment, to automatically prevent support personnel from host-hopping from server to server. Each support session should be encrypted and then quickly be torn down when concluded. And, finally, the solution should require two-factor or multi-factor authorization by any vendor support personnel who request a support session.

In today’s cyber threat environment, CIOs can’t take chances with the security of their networks, yet they still need rapid and responsive technical support. By asking important questions upfront, you can be assured that your communications solutions are smart, give you control, and provide the level of security you need. So when an issue arises, you can get the support you need, without unnecessary delays.

Is your company making full use of the Avaya Secure Access Link Gateway to optimize and protect your Avaya solutions?