ISI CDR Managed Services Call Detail Record Collection from Cisco Gateways
Although the Cisco UCM Publisher produces call detail records (CDR) on all calls made and received by Cisco phones in the cluster, the use of H.323 signaling causes Publisher-generated CDR to be unaware of which trunk facilities are chosen to route the call as it passes through the Gateway and on to PSTN trunks. As trunk-specificity is necessary for accurate determination of call cost and analysis of trunk facility utilization, there are circumstances when it is necessary to collect and report on CDR produced by gateways in lieu of, or in addition to, collecting CDR from a CUCM Publisher. Infortel® Select is well positioned to provide exactly this type of reporting.
CDR Production and Delivery
To enable the collection of CDR from the gateway router, the router can be configured through use of the IOS command prompt to push CDR to a RADIUS server. ISI provides a Remote Data Collect PC which is installed on the customer network and serves as a Radius Accounting Server. The Remote Data Collect application takes the CDR from the gateway and creates a call detail record in an intermediate file format that contains the fields of information necessary to support Infortel Select reporting. This intermediate call detail record becomes the source of call detail information for the Infortel Select application and can be stored, transported and manipulated as necessary.
A single instance of Remote Data Collect is able to receive CDR from dozens of Cisco Gateways at the same time – typically eliminating the need for hardware at each Gateway location.
The frequency of CDR is controllable by the customer. Typically, ISI Managed Services will recommend an hourly delivery schedule to facilitate processing and posting of new call activity several times during the business day.
Remote Data Collect Application
In order to utilize the Remote Data Collect application in an ISI-hosted solution environment, the application is installed on a PC residing on the customer network which the gateway routers can access to push the CDR to it. Remote Data Collect facilitates temporary storage of the call records, preparation of the intermediate file format and transmission of encrypted call records to the ISI data center as encrypted data.
ISI offers two options for deployment of the Remote Data Collect application. ISI will provide and ship a PC with Remote Data Collect pre-installed, ready for installation on the customer’s network. Alternatively, ISI will just provide the Remote Data Collect software for customer installation on a customer-provided physical or virtual machine. With either deployment method, an ISI technician provides remote installation and configuration assistance to the customer to ensure a successful installation.
Secure CDR transport
Remote Data Collect is configured to initiate a SFTP session to an SFTP server located in the ISI data center. On a regularly scheduled basis, typically several times throughout the day, intermediate call records are moved from the Remote Data Collect PC to ISI for long term storage, processing, call rating and reporting. ISI utilizes SFTP push - initiated by the on-site Remote Data Collection application from behind the customer’s firewall. This “inside” initiated session is preferred over the alternative “outside” initiated session, as it is more acceptable to most corporate security models. If desired, a customer-maintained proxy server may be used to redirect SFTP sessions to the ISI SFTP server, thereby providing additional security.
As SFTP transmits data in an encrypted format, this transport protocol is inherently safe for use in transport of corporate CDR over the public Internet. However, even greater data security may be achieved by establishing a VPN connection between the customer network and ISI’s data center network.
ISI Process Management
After successful implementation, ISI technicians monitor polling results daily to ensure rapid detection and resolution of problems with the gateway router CDR source, the Remote Data Collect application or the transport process.
As an ISI-provided Remote Data Collect PC is a critical component in ISI’s managed data collection process, remote access to the device for ISI programming, maintenance or troubleshooting may occasionally be necessary. Remote access is used only for ISI access to the Remote Data Collect application – remote access to the gateway router or any other network servers is rarely required. ISI supports two methods of remote access in an effort work with varied corporate network security policies.
- WebEx remote control session via the public Internet.
- Remote Desktop/Terminal Services connectivity via the public Internet. Customer provides private IP routing and/or secured VPN tunnel.
Services running on the Remote Data Collect PC
In the interest of maximizing security of the customer network, ISI configures the Remote Data Collect PC with all unnecessary Windows services disabled or uninstalled. The following services are NOT enabled on the ISI provided device:
- WWW Publishing
- FTP Publishing
- IIS Administration
- Net Meeting Remote Desktop Sharing
- SNMP Trap
- Remote Desktop/Terminal Services (unless this option is used for remote ISI access)
Prior to shipment of the Remote Data Collect PC, ISI performs a thorough virus scan on the PC and provides certification that the device is free from infection. After installation on the customer network, ISI recommends the customer installs their preferred virus protection software on the Remote Data Collect PC to facilitate monitoring and virus definition updates as they would any other PC on their corporate network.
Robust Cisco Call Detail Metrics
Cisco uses rather complex methodologies for storing CDR. Cisco’s event-driven model writes one or more records for each call, or leg of a call. Additionally, sophisticated methodologies must be employed to distinguish between IP addresses of phones, gateways, and other equipment.
ISI’s Cisco gateway router interface is designed to re-assemble records and provide meaningful reporting; however, the call detail records provide limited station information on inbound and outbound calls. This does not, however, negate the power of ISI’s traffic analysis and reporting engine to provide vital metrics related to call handling. ISI’s interface supports the following record types:
- Outbound Calling (Station to Gateway)
- Inbound Calling (Gateway to Station) with ANI or CLID if available
- Inbound Conference Calls
- Outbound Conference Calls
Tandem Call Matching Option when Reporting is Desired from Both a Gateway Router and a CUCM Publisher
Oftentimes, customers want to report on CDR from gateway routers to obtain the granularity for reporting based on the specific carrier which transported a call, but the customers may also want to report on CDR from the CUCM Publisher to provide station information and report on internal calls or inter-cluster calls. Infortel Select offers a one-of-a-kind solution for matching call records from the various sources, so as to report on employee call activity as a whole. Infortel Select offers a number of reports that are useful to see how the matching of calls has occurred, and additionally, most other Infortel Select reports give users the choice of reporting on combined calls (versus the original calls). In this way, then, customers can receive the best of both worlds – reporting on the granular data provided by the gateway router CDR and tying it to the person/station that made the call through the CUCM CDR.
ISI and Cisco
ISI is a leader in providing call accounting and billing for IP Telephony as well as traditional voice systems. ISI was one of the first vendors to work with Cisco Systems new CallManager product. As an early participant in the Cisco Developer Network program, ISI was the first vendor of any kind to pass Cisco’s stringent independent Verification Testing and earn the Cisco Systems Compatible logo.
ISI’s commitment to Cisco continued with the release of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) versions 5, 6, 7 and 8. ISI receives beta copies of all new versions many months before release. As a result, ISI was able to develop interfaces prior to General Availability of the new versions.
The Cisco Technology Developer Network program provides a number of key benefits for ISI customers:
- Interoperability Testing -- ISI has continually passed Cisco’s stringent Interoperability Testing using approved Cisco test plans and procedures. These stringent tests are conducted by an independent third party. The Cisco Compatible logo ensures that Infortel is fully interoperable with CUCM.
All test procedures are fully documented as part of our commitment to ISO 9001 and quality products.
- Coordinated Support -- As part of our Cisco Developer Network membership, ISI has developed a coordinated support plan with Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center. This relationship provides seamless support with clearly defined roles and responsibilities in both organizations. With coordinated support, a customer can call either TAC center (ISI’s or Cisco) on any problems related to the interface between ISI and Cisco equipment. Both organizations have the ability to escalate support calls to each other, and to work jointly on any issues.
- ISI Test Lab – ISI maintains an extensive “test lab” of Cisco IP Telephony hardware and software for use in development and testing of our products in various Cisco application environments. Additionally, since we run our entire business on Cisco technologies, we can test our products in real-world environments.