LANtelligence offers a free system health check by one of our solutions engineers. When performing these checks, we find many of the same items each time and almost always something new. We also uncover the causes of existing issues that can sometimes be immediately resolved.
This health check can take up to two hours, as we go through the PBX top to bottom, starting with the basics, like roles and features, and moving all the way to the architecture. Many times, we find a system that "mostly works" is missing critical components or configurations like the one illustrated below.
Administrators come to us for health checks with issues their current partner says cannot be fixed. They may say that there are issues with the network or the system can’t do what they want it to without a project. These projects have an expensive statement of work attached. Often, these projects are intended to clean up what should have been done during the implementation.
Rushed implementations generally leave lingering effects on the functionality and perception of your Mitel phone system. We see this time and again when we do a ShoreTel system review. Two Windows servers that are part of the same system may be configured differently. Call flow may not have been planned out but just set up on-site at the time of implementation. I hear time and again from customers that the "installation guy" pushed them to sign off on five users and then left them to set up the rest. These implementations show signs of no architecture planning or even basic design. Frequently, we find evidence of cutting critical components to hit a price target or shortcut to an install. This results in frustration and an unstable phone system.
Dropped calls, calls going straight to voicemail and outbound calls delayed in getting set up - these are the hallmarks of network communication problems, but they are not always the cause. Spending just five minutes in the phone system can reveal other likely causes. In one case, updating the firmware on over a hundred phones resolved the call quality issues.
In another case, there was one user whose phone just rang and rang when you called it. A look at the settings showed that the user had disabled voicemail in the client software. A quick follow up to the user revealed that they were “too busy to take calls.” They had turned the ringer volume all the way down.
Other times, it is more difficult to know the root problem. That is when it is time to dig in, get a copy of the network devices configurations and compare them to best practices. It’s also necessary to get end-to-end packet captures to determine if the QoS is being honored. For our customers, we not only say there is a network issue, but also help find the source. It all starts with a good honest look and a little bit of time.
We often find that the customer isn’t leveraging the virtualization options in the phone system. Using virtualization, we can add redundancy and reduce the load on physical hardware. Mitel (ShoreTel) has a scoring system for the workload on voice switches of which 80 should be the max. We frequently find double that number or more. A little balancing and trimming of the hunt groups brings this utilization back in line with specifications.
Hyper-V and VMWare are supported in the latest builds of Mitel (ShoreTel) Connect for virtualization. The only "cost" is the eight minutes it takes to provision the appliances. The benefit is free redundancy for voice switches and load distribution that cost thousands five years ago but is now free.
Mobility routers are a bit tricky for the average partner to properly provision. There is an issue almost every time we get a health check with a mobility router. The provisioning process must be completed and tested before rolling out to users. All too frequently, a rushed deployment left the mobility partly provisioned and not tested at all. LANtelligence takes these failed implementations and gives them the time they need to be successfully and reliably deployed.
I like to finish up with the event log. The event log is always a great source of information on how the system is doing. I frequently find entries that help me ask the deeper questions, which help to get a better understanding of what is happening in the environment. Many times, the entries can be ignored, but there are often action items that can be taken to resolve them.
I frequently see evidence of administrators power cycling voice switches in an effort to resolve call quality issues. Other times, the same entries can refer to a loose cable or a degraded VPN connection. This discovery starts in the event log.
We repeatedly hear from these system reviews that the administrators get more out of a LANtelligence system review than they got from their current partner in an entire year. Our review will give you a written snapshot of your current system, and it will finish with bullet points of issues and the recommended changes.
When your ShoreTel support renewal time comes up or if you want a second opinion on what is really happening with your phone system, request a free health check by LANtelligence.