By Beecher Tuttle
Assessing the performance of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) servers in a multi-vendor environment is a difficult proposition for today's service providers. This issue is mostly due to the lack of common SIP call log standards, a reality that allows vendors to develop call logs based on their own format.
The myriad of call log formats acts as a barrier for service providers that want to review SIP transactions across multiple vendors, evaluate and troubleshoot their servers, and analyze call trends.
Fortunately, the answer to this concern – SIP CLF (Common Log Format) – has already been developed and is currently in the process of being standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
SIP CLF is a signaling protocol that creates a common log format that enables complete visibility and network management across all Session Initiation Protocol servers, no matter how many vendors are involved. This is highly important for carriers that deliver messaging, voice, video and other multimedia services using SIP.
The benefits of SIP CLF for service providers will be immense. Vijay Gurbani, a distinguished member of technical staff in the enabling computing technologies domain at Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs, recently discussed these industry gains in a TechZine post, Easier Network Management with the SIP CLF.
Gurbani notes that, when implemented, SIP CLF will allow service providers to assess the state of SIP transactions across multiple vendors, thus providing trend analysis and traffic reports that help carriers better their service and streamline their network. In addition, SIP CLF can train anomaly detection systems to trigger alarms and enable the use of SIP equipment tests.
SIP CLF "provides an easily digestible log of past and current transactions, and its format allows quick parsing to discover relationships between transactions," says Gurbani. "In addition, it provides a foundation for creating other innovative tools that can be used to simplify call tracking, troubleshooting and identifying calling patterns."
Gurbani stresses that the signaling protocol will provide carriers with a number of different ways to improve their network performance, including the enabling of trend analysis and troubleshooting tools. Specifically, SIP CLF will eliminate the time-consuming and costly process of correlating data from a diverse set of SIP servers.
The common log format can also help create a standardized diagnostic trail to follow SIP call sessions across the globe, and make troubleshooting adjustments accordingly. The protocol can even help detect attacks based on perceived anomalies.
Gurbani expects SIP CLF to be standardized in the near future. "And as it is implemented throughout the industry, it will give service providers better ways to maintain high performance for multivendor networks, resulting in a better quality of experience for end users," he says.