Roadtrip to Empirix - VoIP Testing Company

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Roadtrip to Empirix - VoIP Testing Company

I headed up to Bedford, Massachusetts this past Friday to visit with Empirix and get the latest scoop on their new testing products. TMC Labs has been using Empirix's hardware for over 7 years to test telcom products and I have always been impressed with Empirix's ability to "evolve" their products. For instance, 5-7 years ago (then called Hammer Technologies), Empirix's strength was "load testing" traditional PSTN technologies, such as T1/E1/analog PBXs. Their system, affectionately called "The Hammer" could inititiate several dozens or even hundreds of simultaneous PSTN calls at once to a system under test.

Hammer XMS VoIP Testing Tool

Hammer XMS VoIP Testing Tool

Well, with the explosion of VoIP, Empirix has launched several products to address VoIP testing. In fact, many of Empirix's product offer seemless integration of PSTN/TDM testing and VoIP testing capabilities. The ability to perform both in an integrated fashion and using a single platform with a single user interface is very important. While I was meeting with Empirix in one of their conference rooms, we discussed their latest product Hammer XMS, the company's new next-generation monitoring system for VoIP service providers. The system combines high-performance probes with a highly scalable architecture, enabling carriers to monitor customer 'Quality of Experience' and quickly identify and troubleshoot problems. The Hammer XMS can scale to multi-site configurations and it provides real-time, call-by-call, wire-rate signaling and media stream analysis giving a view of voice quality and VoIP service performance.

Key features:
- Web-based GUI for remote access to highly efficient SQL database
- Open architecture for interfacing with existing back office systems
- CDR generation for all calls with call control and media statistics, and correlation across VoIP and TDM protocols
- Wire rate signaling and media processing over multiple 10/100 or Gigabit interfaces
- Diagnostics down to protocol message decodes
- Distributed high performance probes coordinated by centralized operations server

Steve Gladstone, VP and General Manager, took time out of his busy schedule to stop by the conference room and say hello and discuss a few things. In a recent press release discussing the Hammer XMS, Steve Gladstone was quoted as saying, "Hammer XMS directly reflects the monitoring needs expressed by our extensive installed base of Hammer users in labs and operational carrier VoIP networks around the world for the past six years."

Anyone that uses a traditional network analyzer is familiar with the concept of remote "probes". Well, Hammer XMS offers single-site probe deployment for those seeking to have a remote turn-up and trouble-shooting tool, through to carrier scale environments. The system correlates and centralizes data from all remote probes, making reports and real time diagnostic data accessible through a Web interface. Hammer XMS provides call control and media metrics to provide an application-level view of delivered customer services. The system offers continuous 24x7 tracking of all VoIP and TDM protocol activity as well as media quality in real time for every call. System wide reports also facilitate network optimization and capacity planning, as well as verification of service levels delivered.

The Hammer XMS builds on previous technology that I've actually used and tested, including Hammer Call Analyzer, which I reviewed in Internet Telephony Magazine. Key features include R-Factor, MOS and jitter measurement capabilities in real time; full Web-based access to the central Hammer XMS SQL database; IP and TDM end-to-end call analysis across multiple paths and legs; and an open architecture designed for integration with existing network and fault management systems. The system supports all major VoIP and TDM gateway protocols.

The Hammer XMS is generally available now. The system is available in a variety of configurations. Single site installations can start at around $50,000.

Empirix has come a long way and grown quite a bit since I first started using their products. They even moved into a bigger, nicer facility just off the Rte 128 "technology corridor" in Mass. I look forward to checking out their latest products soon and using them to "hammer" VoIP products in the labs.

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