Nortel: Certification for Real-Time Networks

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“You have an emergency. You know you can dial three digits from any phone, anywhere, anytime and within milliseconds you have help. Most people don’t understand how it happens, and frankly they don’t care. They just count on it to work….would you have the same confidence dialing that number if it were being routed across an IP core today?”

So begins Nortel’s new e-book “Essentials of Real-Time Networking,” a companion study guide to the new Nortel Certified Technology Specialist (NCTS) – Real-Time Networking certification. (Nortel defines a real-time network as one in which there is no perceived delay in the transmission of the message or the response to it.)

In the February 2004 issue of Certification Magazine, Nortel spoke of evolving its certification program in support of the convergence thrust that is rapidly occurring within our industry. (See To that end, Nortel soon will release a technology certification, along with an accompanying e-book “Essentials of Real-Time Networking—How Real-Time disrupts the best-effort paradigm” to prepare candidates to take the exam.

As a leading provider of Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions with global, proven bench strength in delivering real-time services at carrier grade, Nortel feels it is critically important that customers around the world have a clear understanding of how to engineer real-time applications in converged networks and to validate the skills required to derive five-nines performance, or 99.999 percent uptime, when overlaying real-time applications on an IP backbone.

Why Bother?
Why did Nortel spend more than a year developing such a document and certification? Why did it call upon 25 top-notch engineers, as well as best-of-breed network and solutions architects, to devote untold hours to discussion and authoring of the information and certification test? Nortel spent the time and effort because it believes that:



  • Most networks can pass best-effort data, but not all networks can support real-time services such as voice. VoIP is being deployed on networks originally designed with a router architecture and best-effort delivery philosophy.
  • To design a robust real-time network and ensure your customers get excellent quality of experience, you need to understand the networking requirements for real-time applications such as voice or multimedia conferencing. Improperly engineered real-time networks may severely compromise the user experience.
  • The implementation of real-time VoIP enables simplification of your infrastructure and lowers operations expenditures—but you need to know how to engineer and optimize a real-time network.
  • Network reliability is no longer enough. In a converged world, it’s all about network survivability. Fast recovery from failures and rerouting traffic become critical considerations.
  • The performance of a converged network is going to be determined by the most demanding application that runs on it. If a network cannot handle real-time applications, the services that it can carry will be limited.


The Nortel Approach
Building upon basic protocol and technology skills, Nortel takes it one step further and delves into the intricacies, requirements and “need-to-know” aspects of high-availability real-time networks, quality of service, SIP/H323 protocols, network technologies and network resiliency. Nortel certification will take you to the next level of expertise in engineering real-time networks.

The purpose of the real-time networking certification and the associated e-book is to develop and confirm the foundational skills for designing real-time, high-availability converged networks. Additionally, the e-book offers real-world examples of Nortel’s carrier-grade portfolio configured into real-time network solutions.

Telecom engineers can no longer be segregated into the worlds of data or voice. The currently bifurcated and compartmentalized industry skill sets of voice and data also must converge if we are to ensure the survivability of real-time networks.

Today’s applications are no longer solely about data. They live in a real-time interactive world. To support convergence, the underlying network and the skill sets required to engineer it in a robust, predictable manner must support real-time applications and service with imperceptible delays.

Real-time applications such as Web videoconferencing and online white-boarding are becoming more commonplace as companies look to improve the productivity and collaboration of their employees. In order to run these IP multimedia applications, your network needs to be better than “best effort,” and you need competent engineers to build and manage that network.

Imagine this: Your company’s sales team is spread all over the world, yet they need to connect regularly to share ideas and benefit from one another’s experiences. With real-time applications such as an Integrated Conference Bridge, the sales manager can book recurring meetings with the entire team and send the bridge details to all the team members, all from his home PC’s Web browser. During staff meetings, which he can run from his laptop, he can track attendees online during the call, mute any ambient noise to minimize distractions, conference in other employees for discussions and even extend the meeting time. All of this happens as if everyone were meeting in the same room.

This can only occur if your network is robust enough to manage the real-time applications, so there is no perceived delay in transmission. If the network can’t handle the applications, then the sales manager’s weekly meetings will be disjointed and unsuccessful, with team members talking over each other and time wasted identifying attendees and reviewing calendars for future meetings.

Preparing for Nortel Certification Exams
Nortel’s Real-Time Networking certification is the first step toward building your confidence and knowledge in this fast-emerging converged real-time space. It’s an essential element of the “real-time” toolkit.

There are several ways to prepare for Nortel exams, including on-the-job training, formal instruction, reading and mentoring. To prepare for the NCTS – Real-Time Networking exam, Nortel recommends you read the e-book, “Essentials of Real-Time Networking,” which will be available on the Nortel Web site at

Recommended preparation for all Nortel certifications is documented online at Each detailed exam page lists the exam objectives, broken down by topic; the percentage each area represents on the exam; the recommended training, defined by region; recommended readings, if applicable; and practice exam questions. Candidates can use this information to familiarize themselves with exam content and to perform a self-inventory to determine those areas where additional training may be needed prior to sitting for the exam.

Walking the Talk
Nortel is also “walking the talk.” In addition to creating the certification and accompanying e-book, Nortel is certifying its own engineers in this critical area. Convergence is part of Nortel culture and everyday life. Nortel builds real-time capability into its converged networks.

Nortel’s Real-Time Networking certification validates the foundational skills needed to design, operate and maintain real-time, high-availability converged networks. Once you attain your certification in Real-Time Networking, you too will be in a position to embrace the advantages of a converged, real-time world.

Bill McFarlane is a director at Nortel. For more information, see ww

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