Apparent Networks Aims To Soothe VoIP Pain Points

Called AppareNet Enterprise Voice, the agentless software can run a comprehensive evaluation of a company&s network bandwidth over the course of an afternoon, for even the largest enterprise, said Chris Norris, a research scientist at Vancouver, British Columbia-based Apparent Networks. With the software loaded on a laptop, a system integrator could quickly and accurately locate bottlenecks in a data network that might be affecting the quality of VoIP communication, he said.

AppareNet Enterprise Voice is designed to expedite the scan and allow integrators to proceed to the remediation phase, according to Norris. As a result, solution providers can zero in on latency problems plus perform engineering assessments of networks being readied for VoIP deployments, he said. The software also can be used as an ongoing maintenance tool for VoIP networks.

Apparent Networks plans to showcase AppareNet Enterprise Voice this week at the VON Fall 2005 conference in Boston, Norris said.

As more enterprises deploy VoIP, a product like AppareNet Enterprise Voice could be a big help, said Michael Bottacio, president of Invictus Converged Solutions, a New York-based IT consultant specializing in enterprise telecommunications. Invictus has sold Apparent Networks' VoIP, data and video bandwidth diagnostic products since the vendor launched a formal channel partner program in April, he said. With AppareNet Enterprise Voice, the solution provider will have an improved tool for helping customers, for example, that have encountered latency issues in deploying Cisco CallManager and then were told by Cisco to perform a network assessment on their equipment.

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"It's an awesome diagnostic tool," Bottacio said of AppareNet Enterprise Voice. "It detects more than just VoIP, because in some cases a slow network might be caused by other hardware, the NIC cards could be bad or the switches may have duplex mismatches."

Solution providers can make as much as 20 percent to 30 percent margins by selling Apparent Networks& software, and that doesn't include additional professional-services dollars, said Chris Sterbenc, the vendor&s vice president of partner programs. AppareNet Enterprise Voice costs about $170,000 per license, with a $3,000 fee for each laptop the software is loaded onto, Sterbenc said.

Apparent Networks launched its first formal channel program in April. The three-tier program offers partners incentives such as extra margin, additional sales leads and professional-service subcontracting opportunities, all based on a solution provider&s sales volume, Sterbenc said. The vendor has added 12 partners since rolling out the program, and the company aims to have 20 partners by the year's end, he said.

One of those partners is Ian Gilbert, president of Third Core Communications, a telecommunications-focused integrator in Toronto. Gilbert said he sees an opportunity to employ Apparent Networks' technology in environments where customers want to be proactive about deploying VoIP and in those where clients are forced to be reactive about it.

"We see two scenarios," he said. "A lot of companies that have implemented VoIP come back with problems and say, 'There are issues here we thought we would never have.' And then there are customers that, when we talk about the issues of assessing a network for voice, they say, 'We didn't know we needed to do all that.& "