Effects of Time Sync Issues on Reporting

As of Sep 2017, ShoreTel has been acquired by Mitel; the product titles and images used in this article may not accurately reflect the official product titles post-acquisition. This includes subjects contained in the imagery of brightmetrics' user interface.
 
 
While time synchronization issues do not happen often, when they do, they can cause serious havoc in reporting and dashboard perspectives.  Making sure that your switches and servers are in sync will prevent this from happening and ensure that your Brightmetrics reports are accurate. In this article we will discuss the following:
 
• the importance of time synchronization
• the type of issues that arise from out-of-sync systems
• some typical causes, and 
• known good configurations
 

The importance of Time Synchronization

 
In the Mitel (ShoreTel) CDR database, calls are broken out into so-called “connect” records for each party, workgroup, and system involved in any specific call. Because these records appear as independent records, they do not appear to be a direct result of one another. In order to accurately determine the goings and comings of these connect records, Brightmetrics cross-references Time-related data amongst the systems that are involved. eg. Servers, Switches, IP Phones, and other network-related equipment. Naturally, when these systems are out of sync, the times, stages and duration in the lifetime of the calls become obscured and even indeterminable. 
(See examples below)
 
 
(Example: Cradle to Grave (C2G) Data)
In_Sync.jpg
We can see there are no gaps in the legs, one picks up when the previous ends, and the caller (top line) and the agent (bottom line) both end at the right of the screen.
(Example: Cradle to Grave (C2G) Data with time synchronization issues)
Out_of_Sync.jpg
We can see two gaps here.  The first shows the caller (top line) not reaching the end of the call, as well as the second gap where the legs of the call don't connect together. 

So how can time get out of sync?

Typical causes may include but are not limited to:
 
   A Management Connectivity Problem: 
  • Communication between the server and the switches is experiencing disruption(s) to the connection. (Note: this would be indicated by big red or yellow blocks on Director’s switch connectivity status page)
   Equipment configuration related issues:
  • If a switch is managed by a DVS (Distributed Voice Server), it will get its time from that server, rather than the HQ server
  • Voice-model switches use an SNTP (Network Time Protocol) server directly to synchronize their time, and so must also use a common time source
 

Configurations:

Each network configuration has its own set of steps and implications. However, the following configurations have been known to function with little complications: 
 
  1. If all the devices are part of the same domain forest, pointing all of them to a single domain controller will synchronize the time across all of the devices using Active Directory Time Services. 
  1. If the devices are not part of a domain, the Mitel (ShoreTel) HQ Server can act as the authoritative time source; all the other devices can then be pointed to it for Time Synchronization.
 
 
Note: Resolving any issues concerning time synchronization does not rewrite the timestamps on historical data records.
Questions or feedback? Please email us at support@brightmetrics.com
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