Cisco Unified Communications -- Gathering Information on System Problems

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This information applies to all Cisco Unified Communications System releases.

In a Cisco Unified Communications network, problems are typically discovered and reported by one of the following types of users:

  • External users trying to reach employees within the company
  • External customers dialing into a call center to order products, obtain customer service, and so forth.
  • Internal agents receiving incoming calls from a call queue or initiating outbound collection calls to customers.
  • Internal users using administrative phones to call employees in other company locations or PSTN destinations, and perform basic actions such as call transfers and dialing into conferences.

Network administrators must collect sufficient information from these users to allow them to isolate the problem. Detailed, accurate information will make this task easier. The following table lists recommended questions to ask users when they report a problem. As you turn up your network, you may consider putting these questions in an on-line form. A form will encourage users to provide more details about the problem and also put them into the habit of looking for particular error messages and indicators. Capturing the information electronically will also permit you to retrieve and re-examine this information in the future, should the problem repeat itself.

Ask this Question... To Determine...
Did something fail or did it simply perform poorly? Whether the issue relates to system degradation or a connectivity failure. An example of a failure is when a user dials a phone number and hears fast busy tone. An example of a performance problem is when a user dials into a conference call and hears "choppy" audio when other parties speak. Quality of service or performance issues require a different approach than connectivity or operational problems. You must still isolate the potential sources of the problem, but you will typically use performance management tools instead of log files.
What device were you trying to use? The device type, model and version of software installed. It is also critical to capture the IP address assigned to the device, as well as its MAC address. If the case of Cisco Unified IP phones, determining the phone's active Cisco Unified Communications Manager server is also important. On Cisco Unified IP phones, these important network values can be displayed by pressing the Settings button and choosing the Network Configuration option from the menu.
Did it ever work? If a device was recently installed and the problem occurred while making it work for the first time, or if the device was operating normally before the problem occurred. If the device was newly installed, the problem is most likely due to improper configuration or wiring of that particular device. Problems with devices that are already up and running can typically be traced back to one of two causes: (a) the user modifying their device, such as changing their configuration or upgrading software, or (b) a change or failure elsewhere in the network.
Exactly what action(s) did you perform? The steps that led up to the problem, including which buttons were pressed and in which order. Capturing this information in detail is important so that you can consistently reproduce the problem.
What error message(s) appeared or announcements did you hear? The visual and audio indicators of the problem. Ask users to provide the exact text that appears and any error codes in either an E-mail or on-line form. If the error indication was audible, ask the user to write down the announcement they heard, the last menu option they were able to successfully choose or the tone they heard when the call failed.
What time did the problem occur? The date and time to compare against entries in log files. If the problem occurred on a Cisco Unified IP phone, make certain the user provides the timestamp that appears on their phone's display. Several Cisco components in a network may capture the same problem event in separate log files, with different ID values. In order to correlate log entries written by different components, you must compare the timestamps to find messages for the same event. Cisco Unified IP phones synchronize their date and time with their active Cisco Unified Communications Manager server. If all Cisco components in the network use Network Time Protocol (NTP) to synchronize with the same source, then the timestamps for the same problem messages will match in every log file.
What is the number of the phone you used and what was the phone number you called? If the problem relates to a WAN or PTSN link, or a Cisco Unified Communications Manager dial plan issue. Ask the user the phone number he or she dialed (called number) and determine if the destination was within his or her site, another site within the corporate network, or a PSTN destination. Because the calling number (the number of the phone used) also affects call routing in some cases, capture this number as well.
Did you try to perform any special actions, such as a transfer, forward, call park, call pickup, or meet-me conference? Is the phone set up to automatically perform any of these actions? If the problem is not directly related to the calling number or called number but rather to the supplementary service setup on Unified Communications Manager or the problem is at the destination phone the user tried to reach by transferring or forwarding the call.
Did you attempt the same action on another device? If the problem is isolated to that user's device or represents a more widespread network problem. If the user cannot make a call from his or her phone, ask the user to place a call to the same destination using a phone in a nearby office.

Have you had experience troubleshooting Cisco Unified Communications equipment? Can you expand on this topic? Please contribute to this wiki and share the tools and techniques you used by sending E-mail to Guidelines for submitting content are available on the About DocWiki pages.

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