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The Protocol - Sep/Oct 2001

Special Report:
Dealing with Nuisance Alarms

The primary purpose of a network alarm management system is to let you know when events occur that adversely affect your network so that you can perform specific corrective actions. The ideal situation is that the system stays quiet until such time an alarm occurs, thus causing your staff to spring into action. But what would happen if they were constantly bombarded with status events or non-alarms that did not require any action other than acknowledging the alarms? Unfortunately, they will eventually become desensitized to the barrage of status alarms. This could become very costly should a critical alarm not be acted upon in a timely manner. It also defeats the primary purpose of your alarm management system.

Tired at work
Desensitized: Becoming desensitized
could lead to a service-interrupting
failure if a critical alarm is missed.

The collective and self-defining name for that sort of non-productive alarm is a "Nuisance Alarm". Fortunately, T/Mon has many features that can reduce or eliminate nuisance alarms.

The first thing to determine is whether the alarm is needed at all. If the alarm is simply a status indication and no action is ever required, then you might want to just turn the point off by setting it to "No Log". You can still have the alarm go to your history file for future data analysis. It might be that the alarm by itself is not relevant, but it is important when occurring in combination with other alarms. In this case, you can use T/Mon's derived alarm feature to only report that alarm in that circumstance. Keep in mind that one of the "circumstances" could be that the condition is only an alarm on a given day of the week or time of day.

In cases where problems are self-correcting, there might not be a need to know something happened if it has already been fixed. Therefore, you can use T/Mon's alarm qualification time that says the condition must be in existence for a given number of minutes before an alarm is declared. You might want to use alarm qualifications for things like power failures, fades, etc. There is also a more powerful version of alarm qualification times that will alert you when an alarm point fails more than a given number of times in a specified time period.

Now, let's assume that you have a point that must be monitored, but unfortunately it enters an oscillating condition that creates a lot of alarm activity. In this case you would want to use the "alarm silencing" feature that turns off that alarm point for a specified amount of time. This saves you time because if you already have taken action to fix the problem or scheduled a correction time for the problem, then there is no need to be continuously reminded of the problem. Implementing some or all of these strategies will cause your system to run quieter and become easier to manage.

Next Page: Success Story

Find out more about dealing with nuisance alarms...
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