Stop Trashing Your Data!

New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is a big believer in the saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.   It is a simple and obvious statement that can apply to every business opportunity.  When it comes to running a voice network, the key to measurement begins with the ability to capture as much information as is possible.  Again, this seems simple and obvious.  Only here’s the thing…many carriers are willfully discarding vital network data in the name of saving storage space.   More specifically, carriers are not recording all of the Call Detail Records (CDRs) that their platforms’ generate.  In fact, in many cases, service providers discard far more CDRs then they retain.

Let me explain.   Since most next-gen switches are server based and rely on hard drives to capture CDR’s, by default many platforms are configured to save space by not recording CDR’s for each hunt attempt.  Only one CDR is written, and therefore it is typically the last route choice that is populated in the outbound trunk field.   For example, if a call hunts through two carriers before ultimately failing on a third, no records are written to indicate the failed attempts on the first two carriers. In other words, the two carriers that also failed the call get a free pass.  Some platforms do indicate the number of hunt attempts in the CDR, but there is very little high level reporting that can be done with this data.  Furthermore, even if you were to determine that a particular carrier failed a call, the error code is not recorded thus there is no indication why the call failed.  This severely impacts decision making.  Fundamental statistics like Answer Seizure Ratio (ASR) become nearly impossible to measure accurately.  Also, how do you size your network properly when you don’t have a complete account of all call attempts?  Finally, not having access to failure codes makes trouble shooting more of a guessing game then something you can rely upon when making decisions that can cost your company thousands of dollars an hour.

Fortunately, almost every platform, be it GenbandMeraSonus, or even FreeSwitch have settings which enable them to record every hunt attempt on every call.  Of course you will have to keep some things in mind before you decide to implement this.  First of all, capturing each hunt attempt will consume storage space, so you may not be able to store as many call records locally.  Secondly, you have to ensure that your reporting software can account for dealing with multiple CDRs per call.  Some packages cannot and as a result your reporting will indicate that you are receiving double or triple the amount of call attempts then you actually are.

Despite the increase in storage and reporting requirements, I cannot think of any reason why any carrier would not keep and utilize this data.  Failure to do so is essentially throwing  away the opportunity to perform the following.

  • Capture granular detail of each leg of every call for trouble shooting purposes

  • Accurately measure vendor performance

  • Compile high level reporting for network sizing purposes

Like Mayor Bloomberg might say, “If you don’t capture it, you can’t measure it.”