Network Management FAQ
What role does Network Management play in my Organization?
Network management refers to the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of your networked systems.
- Operation deals with keeping your network (and the services that your network provides) up and running smoothly. It includes monitoring the network to spot problems as soon as possible, ideally before users are affected.
- Administration deals with keeping track of your resources in the network and how they are assigned. It includes all the "housekeeping" that is necessary to keep your network under control.
- Maintenance is concerned with performing repairs and upgrades - for example, when your equipment must be replaced, when a router needs a patch for an operating system image, when a new switch is added to a network.
- Provisioning is concerned with configuring resources in your network to support a given service. For example, this might include setting up your network so that a new customer can receive voice service.
What kinds of functions are performed as part of network management?
Functions that are performed as part of network management include:
- Controlling, planning, deploying, and monitoring the resources of a network
- Network planning
- Configuration management
- Fault management
- Security management
- Performance management
How can a modern alarm monitoring system enhance my network management infrastructure?
Deploying an effective alarm solution is a crucial component in protecting your valuable resources. A high-quality alarm solution can improve the quality of your network management by:
- Integrating all your alarms to a single screen An effective alarm system will integrate all your alarms to one screen, so you always know exactly what's going on in your network.
- Tracking COS and Standing alarms An excellent monitoring system will include a Change of State (COS) screen that provides immediate notification of new events in your network management system. This Standing Alarms screen displays all of your current alarms.
- Supporting your existing equipment Look for a system that has the capabilities to support all your existing equipment and numerous protocols, including ASCII, DCP, DCM, E2A, FX8800, SNMP, TABS, TBOS, TL1, and TRIP. A quality system will also poll third-party equipment, including: Badger, Granger, Larse, NEC, Pulsecom, and Teltrac.
What other benefits can I obtain by using an integrated Remote Alarm System?
Using an integrated remote alarm system for all your monitoring applications will:
- Create substantial savings in initial expenditure, operational, and maintenance costs.
- Save your investment in legacy remote systems by extending their working life.
- Provide advanced features like after-hours monitoring and automatic notifications at low cost.
- Leverage your existing monitoring system to provide better monitoring now and an upgrade path for the future.
- Spread equipment upgrade costs over several budget cycles, since both your current systems and new monitoring equipment are supported by the multiprotocol platform.
What kind of alarm monitoring solution should I look for to enhance my network management system?
Your first step to get your alarm monitoring system rolling is to conduct a complete survey of your current network and remote sites. This survey will document your existing alarm monitoring situation, in order to build a road map for your future network management. Here are some questions that will help you start your network-monitoring inventory:
- How many remote sites need to be monitored?
- What is the protocol and transport of the RTUs you're currently using?
- How many alarm points will your network alarm system monitor in the next 5-10 years?
- What dedicated facilities do you already have in place to transport RTU data?
- How many ASCII devices (e.g., switches, routers, etc.) will you monitor at your remote sites?
- What type of power do you have at the master and remote sites?
- Do you want to receive alarm notifications via email or pager?
What are some essential features I should look for when choosing an RTU?
Here is a useful list of important features that you should look for in a quality RTU.
- Pager and e-mail notifications: Pager and e-mail notifications enhance your network management by letting your field techs respond to alarms while they're still in the field, speeding repairs and reducing windshield time. Look for an RTU with SMS support, which can send detailed alarm notifications to alpha pagers, cell phones, and PDAs.
- Detailed alarm notifications: Summary "major/minor" alarms don't give you enough information to make dispatch decisions. Look for an RTU that includes detailed diagnostic information in each alarm.
- Alarm sorting: A large, complex network management system can create a cascade of alarms. Some are unimportant, but others are critical. Look for a remote site monitor that can automatically sort and prioritize this flood of information for you.
- Nuisance alarm filtering: Even the best network management staff stops taking alarms seriously if they're bombarded with status alerts, oscillating conditions, and unimportant alarms. Look for a system that filters these out.
- Live analog monitoring: You can't adequately monitor battery levels, temperature, and humidity with one-threshold contact closures. Look for an RTU that support for analog inputs, including live monitoring of actual analog values.
- Control relays: Many common site problems, from power outages to high temperature alarms, can be solved by quickly turning on a generator or an air conditioner. Remote operation of site devices is the best way to eliminate unnecessary site visits and it's a lot faster than going in the truck.
- SNMP support and ping alarms: If you're responsible for both telecom and IP equipment, consolidate all your monitoring on one RTU.
How important is it to have one alarm master that can support all the network management protocols that my equipment uses?
You probably have several different types of transport equipment to monitor, and you may have several generations of legacy alarm monitoring equipment as well. All these different types of equipment report alarms using different incompatible protocols. You definitely want to have one alarm master that can support all the monitoring protocols your equipment uses and display all your alarms on one screen. Trying to monitor by watching two or more screens is hard work that confuses even the best system operators, and sooner or later someone will miss a major alarm.
What kind of capability expansion should I be looking at when choosing a Network management alarm master?
An alarm system is a long-term investment that will last for as long as 10 to 15 years. You need an alarm master system that will support your future growth for up to 15 years. In that time your network is going to grow in size, you're going to add new kinds of equipment, and you're going to need new alarm monitoring capabilities. Make sure your alarm master can grow and change with your network.
What kind of Network management user security does a high-quality alarm master offer?
An excellent alarm solution has built-in features for managing user permissions. Individual user security profiles limit 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 the system configuration.
How important is alarm data transport in my network management system?
Alarm data transport is a very important factor to take into consideration when deciding upon an RTU.
There are two things you should keep in mind about alarm data transport:
- As much as possible, you want to work with transports that are already available in your network management system. You don't want to create added expenses by committing yourself to installing new network infrastructure. It's best to choose an alarm system that is compatible with the transports you already have.
- It's a good idea to have a secondary backup path for your alarm data in case your primary path fails. No transport is 100% reliable, and you don't want to lose alarm visibility of your revenue-generating network under any circumstances.
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and other high-quality RTUs that enhance your network management system
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