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Hints, Tips and Tricks: What You May Not Know About the T/Mon

Because all of you are busy professionals, you may not always have the chance to take advantage of the new and useful features that are part of T/Mon. T/Mon is always being developed from the feedback that we get from you. Sometimes features or enhancement are added that may go unnoticed to you, here are some hints, tips, and tricks that will help new and experienced users alike take full advantage of some of the useful features of the T/Mon.

Offline Databasing with XMEdit

Using XMEdit (a windows based software utility) you can prepare and maintain the T/Mon database offline. You are able to create or import an existing T/Mon database and work with it in XMEdit instead of your live T/Mon Alarm Monitoring Master, avoiding interruptions during ongoing alarm monitoring. Once you have your database configured and ready to go, you are then able to connect to the T/Mon and transfer your edits directly.

Speed Up Your SNMP Databasing Using SNMP Trap Definitions Import

You can now export SNMP trap definitions from T/Mon via the "Alarm Export Report". This means that you can also import your SNMP trap definitions back into T/Mon. Trap definitions can be defined and modified in an external editor (like Microsoft Excel) and then imported into T/Mon using the "Import Definitions Report."

The import and export feature saves you time and allows you to use an editor that you are most comfortable with. You also have the option to backup your configuration in the event that something happens to the working version of your setup. Recovery then becomes simple and painless. From the T/Mon you can still take advantage of the point editor to make fine adjustments and to delete points from your definitions.

Identify and Eliminate Network Threats Quickly with Root Cause Analysis

Too many companies depend on human intervention to provide intelligent analysis of alarm data. T/Mon's root cause analysis features let you automate the process, so your newest, least experienced technician can identify and eliminate network threats with the same skill as a 30-year veteran.

It's often difficult to diagnose the cause of network failures. For example, different switches at different remote sites may report a connection loss. Are these separate failures on separate lines, or a single failure on a line connecting the two?

If your network monitoring these sites separately, it may take hours of patient testing to find the real cause. Experienced technicians may be able to diagnose the problem faster, but not everyone has access to experienced technicians.

T/Mon takes the guesswork out of root cause analysis. First, T/Mon brings the separate pieces of your network into one coordinated platform, so you have an eagle-eye view of every alarm. Second, T/Mon's derived alarms features correlate alarms by logical formulas, automatically identifying the single cause behind apparently unconnected alarms.

You can create a derived alarm formula for any repeatable conjunction of events. The combined knowledge of your most experienced staff can be captured in a software format. And when that conjunction of events reoccurs, your monitoring technicians won't see a meaningless collection of alarms, but a straightforward identification of the real problem.

ASCII Alarm Processing Extracts Detailed Alarm Information

It's incredible how many companies rely on embedded scan points and meaningless summary alarms to monitor their vital, revenue-generating equipment. A summary alarm can tell you there's a problem - some problem, somewhere - but it can't help you identify or correct it.

You could be looking at hours of testing and troubleshooting before you find the problem. And those are hours that cost - in technician man-hours, in network downtime, and in lost revenue.

But there's a richer source of information right there in front of you. Your equipment can output ASCII alarm reports that contain detailed information about the problem. The only trouble is, you have to somehow extract the meaningful data from a mass of raw text.

Here's where T/Mon can help. T/Mon's ASCII Processing Software Module can automatically parse ASCII text, extract the alarm data, and convert the information to a standard T/Mon alarm that inherits all of T/Mon's powerful alarm processing and notification features.

Instead of struggling to identify the network threat, you can find it, correct it, and get your network back on line fast.

Accurate Alarm History Depends on Accurate Timekeeping

T/Mon has always been able to synchronize its internal clock via a dialup connection to a network server. Enhancements to T/Mon, now allow periodically synchronization of its internal clock with a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server through the Internet or your network for faster than dialup synchronization.

Accurate and consistent timekeeping is essential for best-quality alarm management. Knowing exactly when an alarm happens is the next most important thing as knowing where. If your master and your various remotes don't keep the same time, your time-stamp data can be inaccurate. NTP synchronization keeps your entire alarm-monitoring network to a consistent timekeeping standard.

System-wide User Profile Changes

T/Mon controls access rights to the system via the "system users" screen. These access rights include such elements as: what alarms may be viewed, which alarms may be acknowledged, which controls and system commands may be issued, and what modifications may be made to system configurations, just to name a few. Even though these fields are highly customizable on a user level, virtually all our clients have situations where they have multiple users that have the same access levels for a particular type of user (i.e. All filed technicians might have one level of access and all NOC center personnel might have another).

Traditionally most T/Mon system administrators use the "template" method of setting security level. This allows them to make up a master template for a type of user, and then copy that into each user that falls in that category. The newer version of T/Mon uses a superior "Profile" mechanism that employs a dynamic link between the profile and the system users of that profile. The advantage of using profiles is that if your original profile changes, say you add a new site window, you only have to change the profile and the users inherit the change (without having to edit each individual user), making the system users much easier to administer.