Tag Archives: Quality

Psytechnics Experience Manager 5 Release


PsytechnicsPsytechnics announced at VoiceCon 2010 their latest update to Experience Manager, Experience Manager 5 with Service Desk. This comprehensive release is probably the most substantial feature update since the initial release of Experience Manager in 2006.

What’s new this time?

Plenty. They’ve implemented a strategy to deliver a much broader scope of operational performance than every before. They’ve partnered with leading endpoint vendors, UC communications companies including Microsoft and IBM to imbed their technologies directly onto the endpoint so they can properly participate in the session quality control process. They’ve partnered with¬†TANDBERG and Polycom to characterize their video quality compensation schemes so they can develop a MOS predictor for video and telepresence systems.

They’ve set the groundwork to work with Wi-Fi devices to enable VoIP and video over Wi-Fi quality management. Their little Quality of Experience agent on selected endpoints, work with the IP Engine servers distributed around the network and report session-by-session, endpoint-by-endpoint real-time operational performance enabling integration with enterprise-wide system management applications such as HP NMS, IBM TNSQM, or CA eHealth.

experiencemanager5-1Psytechnics enables per-session Quality of Experience visibility using a new browser-enabled interface for IT help desk professionals. The help desk agent can query the Experience Manager database for specific session by session details, time of day or corporate location in a window called Service Desk. Then they can view the session attributes and even access an ‘expert’-type Results Assistant feature the provides simple and complete description of what happened and what this feature means.

There’s a monitoring capability to so only the trouble spots in real-time, jump to the screen, flashing red or yellow and otherwise attracting network engineer attention. A troubleshooting screen enables network, session and regional views empowering the engineer to get closer to heart of an issue in real-time than ever before.

Extensive reporting options enable graphical representation and customized delivery frequencies of network availability or session quality details or narratives of operations on a periodic basis to a list of persons that might form the basis for the operations meeting review at 9 am, for example.

experiencemanager5-2The goal is to arm the help desk of communications companies and communications service departments with the tools to quickly and professionally deal with a user’s quality of experience complaint. Long gone are the made up answers and ‘we’ll look into it when we really won’t’ fibs that used to be an important part of the IT help desk operation when it came to VoIP quality.

I remember at one company, I would call the the engineer to report that I had just ended a call with a nasty ____ (insert echo, noise, clipping or otherwise unintelligible communication) on the call. I received the audio equivalent of the blank stare. ‘I’ll get right on that.’ Sure you will. If only we had had Experience Manager 5.

No doubt, quality of experience will be the new mantra for differentiating one service provider from another. Psytechnics will be a major element of that differentiation for many leading carriers, managed service providers and large IT operations.

Keynote Systems Tracks The Internet Experience


News-Site-IndexThe King of Pop died yesterday and not only is his genius and talent all over the music industry, but his passing was reflected by a momentary degrading of the Internet as fans and music afficianados around the world looked to major news sites for facts, songs and videos. The graph shows how performance was cut in half (4 seconds to 9 seconds) and average availability of leading news sites dropped some 15%. Major sites included in this News Site Index included ABC, AOL, Bloomberg, CBS, CNBC, CNN, CNN Money, Fox Business, Google Finance, Google News, LA Times, MSN Money, MSNBC, MarketWatch, NBC, NPR, NY Times, SF Chronicle, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo News.

Keynote Systems monitors websites, VoIP service providers and offers solutions for effective development, testing and deployment of mobile applications, where their expertise in network application performance monitoring can be effectively leveraged.

Psytechnics Earns Sametime Credibility


psytechnicsPushing the yardstick forward on the great quality march, the brilliant folks at Psytechnics earned another endorsement from the largest realtime application vendor for large organizations – IBM Lotus Sametime. Sametime has more marketshare than Microsoft Office Communicator, and is particularly well entrenched in large organizations. To complement their existing, well-established Microsoft relationship and the IBM Global Services use of the Psytechnics implementation to proactively monitor and manage advanced IP networks used in realtime video and voice over IP services, the Sametime team endorses the use of Psytechnics solutions to manage the quality of experience for users.

Interactions with the Sametime Unified Telephony abstraction layer are measurable and reportable within the Psytechnics operational architecture and was announced here in Florida at VoiceCon Orlando, April 1, 2009.

uTest Blends Software QA and Social Networks


utest_logoSoftware testing is not an easy process. It is the brute force review of functionality and is often considered a necessary, but unpleasant experience. In fact, most software developer regrets having to do QA and even worse, wait for QA by others to finish so they can start working on the bug fixes. And, every QA manager loathes the pressure of testing products where management has high expectations going into the test bed, especially when they're already late to market, because revenue will be delayed too, unless QA can get the amazing new product through faster than expected? Yuck.

Truth is, Quality can't be rushed, but it can be done around the clock. In the past that meant long hours, and gallons of black coffee that all so much seemed like pulling an all-nighter to study for exams the next morning. But, no more…

uTest, just down the road in Southborough (8.8 miles from our office) MA defines a new approach using the web to both deliver the test product with test scripts, but also control the bug reporting processes. Multiple testers can participate simultaneously, but only the first reporter gets credit for the bug and only when the client accepts the bug does the uTest company and the uTest tester get paid. Clients can rate their testers too. Hundreds or thousands of testers, or users with Armenian or Urdu or Swahilli language skills can be engaged to test the product.

uTest, founded in 2007, has built up a large community of some 11,550 testers in a very short period of time. Although the work is serious, testers do the testing like a game. They login at their convenience, sign in to the projects that they want to and are qualified to test for (language, browser, software experience, computer OS are some of the options), test, record bugs and earn points. Those with more points get paid more for each bug they discover. So, practice makes perfect.

uTest uses the time shifting capabilities of the web so clients can actually release product for testing on Friday afternoons. It's way cheaper than other approaches of having a full-time test community, having testers on retainer ready to do testing, or releasing product without complete testing.

This is quite innovative, and consistent with other buying center class of services. A buying center is the class of Internet service that brings buyers and sellers together, allowing anonymity (when required) and transactional trust provided by the third party operation. Ariba does this for business products offering spend management services. Joomlancer.com does this so Joomla (an open source content management system) webmasters can access expert software developers and Joomla professionals. uTest brings software quality managers and testers together in a process that is profitable for both parties.

I'd expect more of these kinds of services developing where large numbers of people use the Internet to perform functions that are uniquely human. Another example is the naming of images used some form of CAPTCHA processes. Humans are pretty good at seeing a photo of a cat and saying that's a cat.

Video Quality Measurement

I've been researching the video quality standards and have been learning about a little known agency of the US Department of Commerce – the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences, in Boulder CO.

The ITS has been active in development of video standards including several ANSI standards that also contribute to ITU recommendations. ITS was established in the 1940s as a radio propagation lab as part of the National Bureau of Standards in the US Dept of Commerce. The ITS, as the research and engineering branch of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration also offers interesting resources including this cool chart of the US Spectrum Allocation.

The ITS has conducted a subjective analysis of video quality for public safety applications study and is busy writing Statement of Requirements for video surveillance and mobile radio systems.

They've also written and offer for free download an automated video analysis application that embodies a measurement paradigm called 'reduced-reference' video quality measurement. The ANSI T1.801.03-2003 incorporates the ITS' three patents on the method and algorithm and is the basis for the ITU reference ITU J.144 "Objective perceptual video quality measurement techniques for digital cable television in the presence of a full reference."

The interesting thing about the ITS' Video Quality Measurement technology is that it performed so very well in international subjective testing comparisons – at the 95% correlation level.