If you were building an international long-distance network from the ground up, what kind of alarm monitoring would you choose? Andrew Melton of NOS Communications, Inc. had to make that choice. Because of his real-life operational experience with the unit, Melton chose the NetGuardian 832A.
Two years ago, NOS Communications decided to move in a new direction. For 15 years, NOS had been a successful reseller of long-distance phone service. Now they wanted to improve customer service and reliability by building its own network.
Within two years, NOS has built the backbone of its network, turning up Class 4 switches in Los Angeles, New York, and London. The company also operates sites in Las Vegas (its corporate headquarters), Cairo, Egypt, and El Segundo, California, the site of its Network Operations Center and engineering and support facilities.
Andrew Melton, NOS Communications' Senior Director of Global Network Operations, is part of the team that is building the new network. Melton said that the NOS Class 4 switch sites hold a variety of equipment, all of which needs to be monitored.
"We have the Alcatel Megahub switches, we've got Fujitsu OC-48 multiplexers, we've got ONEAC UPS power units, NEC DS3 multiplexers, Cisco routers, Cisco switches and servers. The switches have no ability to communicate alarms over the network, so we needed some kind of monitoring device," Melton said.
Melton said his primary need was to mediate contact closure alarms from the switches and other site equipment into SNMP traps, to be forwarded to NOS Communications' SNMP manager "Our biggest need is taking the alarms out of the switch, the discrete-based points, converting them into SNMP traps, and then using those to set off a chain of notifications," Melton said.
Melton knows network alarm monitoring. Before coming to NOS Communications, Melton was Director of Engineering at Cypress Communications. "I was responsible for the design and implementation of our IP network. I then took over responsibility for the network operations center, monitoring the voice and IP networks."
Throughout its network, Cypress relied on the NetGuardian 832A - in fact, Cypress has the world's largest deployment of NetGuardians. "At Cypress, we had a couple of hundred NetGuardians. They'd mediate all the alarms going out of the equipment, plus temperature, power supply and commercial power status," said Melton.
Based on Melton's experience at Cypress, the NetGuardian was his natural choice for monitoring NOS Communications' new long-distance carrier network.
"The NetGuardian does everything we need it to do. It has the ability to interface with all our equipment, whether it's a CSU/DSU or a Class 4 switch," said Melton.
"We use the NetGuardian as an SNMP mediator - it brings in contact closures, analogs and relays, translates them into something compatible with our IP network and integrate that into our SNMP network management system," Melton added.
NOS Communications also depends on the NetGuardian's advanced features like terminal server ports and ping alarms. "We need the NetGuardian's remote craft port access. It allows us to access equipment with one small device, where otherwise we would need modem lines or other elaborate ways of communicating. We also use the NetGuardian for pinging, to make sure IP devices are still up," Melton said.
Melton's first experience with the NetGuardian was when Cypress installed its monitoring in 1999. He said he is impressed at how much the unit has improved in the past five years.
"The biggest difference I see is how much better the NetGuardian handles IP data. The addition of the network time server option, the NetGuardian's interaction network - it's a much more robust IP-layer device now than it was five years ago," said Melton.
Melton continued: "Once I've collected an alarm from the NetGuardian, I have many more options. I can generate email notifications directly from the Net Guardian, I can send text messages, I can do a lot more."
Melton learned even more about the NetGuardian's latest capacities when he recently attended DPS Factory Training. "The class was great. I've been using the NetGuardian for years, and there's so much it does that I never knew about. Already I'm thinking that there are things we need to start implementing: user-level access controls, security call-backs, and escalation lists.
Melton said his future monitoring plans are to add more NetGuardians as NOS Communications builds its network. "Right now we're going into London. We'll start providing service in other countries, and as we expand our global footprint, we'll put a NetGuardian in each of those locations," said Melton.
"I'd also like to see a better integration of the NetGuardians, maybe through T/Mon, so we can use a single platform in our NOC instead of having to go to each individual device," Melton continued.
Mediating contact closures to SNMP traps is just the start of the NEBS-certified NetGuardian 832A's capabilities. Get built-in email alarm notification ... access remote site equipment through terminal server ports ... learn everything the NetGuardian 832A can do for you.
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