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An introduction to Monitoring Fundamentals strictly from the perspective of telecom network alarm management.

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Are You Trusting Embedded Alarm Systems to Monitor Your Sites?

4 Reasons Why Depending on Scan Points Can Be Risky

At the last Factory Training Event, a client asked: "Why do I need a network alarm monitoring system anyway? All my equipment has embedded alarm systems. Isn't that enough?" It's a fair question, but it's not a question of whether it's enough. It's the difference between being proactive and reactive. The difference between monitoring and the appearance of monitoring. Here's why.

1. Too Many Screens: If you use an embedded alarm system for each type of equipment, you've got a lot of screens to watch. Sooner or later you'll lose an alarm because of unavoidable human error. Separate systems also make it harder to correlate events for root cause analysis. An integrated monitoring system puts all your alarms on one screen, letting you absolutely know whether there's a problem anywhere. As one client put it, "When you see green from all your sites, that's pretty good peace of mind."

2. You Can't Leave the Console: Embedded alarm systems just dump alarms on isolated screens you have to watch continuously, or into logs you won't look at until something goes wrong. If your system is just giving you a list of what happened after a publicly visible outage instead of arming you against it ever happening, you don't have a monitoring system, just a collection of historical event loss. An advanced monitoring system will filter out nuisance alarms and send detailed alarms directly to the people who need them, so you don't have to huddle around the console 24-7.

3. Single Point of Failure: If you rely on embedded alarm systems, you're trusting your equipment to monitor itself. If the equipment or its transport fails, your telemetry data disappears. A separate monitoring system provides redundancy, including alternate data paths in case of network failure. (For more information on using alternate data paths, see "Creating a Redundant Backup Path for Your NetGuardian," in this issue.)

4. One-Threshold Environmental Monitoring: Embedded alarm systems provide a single discrete threshold alarm for monitoring environmental factors like battery voltage, fuel levels, temperature, humidity and flooding. An advanced network monitoring system will provide live, real-time analog readings of environmental conditions at your remote sites, whether the reading has crossed the threshold or not.

If you rely solely on embedded alarms, you'll have blind spots in your network visibility that can prevent you from quickly detecting and repairing network problems. So what's the role of the embedded or proprietary alarm system? It's better to use them to drill down for equipment details after your advanced, integrated monitoring system notifies you of a problem. High quality alarm monitoring helps you avoid network outages, prevent equipment damage, and reduce repair costs. In the long run, getting the right network monitoring system is not only better, it's cheaper.