I’ll be honest, when I think of testing in the VoIP space, names like Spirent, Agilent and Empirix come to mind. So I was happily surprised to find a company in the testing space that is smaller and geared towards the needs of amateur testers. Well amateur isn’t the right word but starting at $8,000 the affordable testing solutions sold by WildPackets are within the reach of many corporations and developers that want to see what is happening on the network but they don’t want to break the bank to do so.
The EtherPeek VX is a product that allows accurate call playback with varying levels of degradation for subject quality assessment and has features such as an embedded jitter buffer consultant, statistics, reports and graphs. This is all done in a non-obtrusive fashion, meaning you don’t need to flood the network with traffic to see what is happening.
I had a chance to play around with the GUI of the system and selected some packets and was able to identify jitter. I could see the opened and closed calls, and the payload of G.711 calls. You can see SIP messages going back and forth as well. Since all applications on the network are being analyzed, you can see which packets are affecting the quality of your calls.
For a 15 year-old company WildPackets can’t be better positioned to take advantage of the burgeoning VoIP market. VoIP for all its benefits requires bandwidth and that bandwidth has to be continuous. Network analysis is a crucial segment of the VoIP market that will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. If video is the next application many networks will have to support, the network testing companies will do very well for years to come. The downside risk to these companies? Open-source testing tools. An Asterisk user/developer will likely write a testing suite in the future if they haven’t already.