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SNMP Alarms: Simple Traps vs. Multi-Protocol Alarm Management

If your network is spread out across a wide area with many unmanned sites, you need monitoring. There's just no way that you and your team can watch all of your gear without some form of automated monitoring. The network is simply too big, and there are too few hours in a day to be constantly driving between network sites, burning both fuel and labor time.

SNMP monitoring is distinct from other forms of monitoring because it involves the use of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

The SNMP messages are, most commonly, created by an SNMP agent (some kind of network device at the site) and received by a central SNMP manager (a monitoring software program, ideally running on its own dedicated hardware platform). Sometimes, the manager will send a message to an agent. This message might ask, "What is the current temperature inside your site enclosure?", or any number of other important questions.

You can extract a lot of benefit from using this protocol, and there really aren't any significant disadvantages to be wary of.

Monitoring SNMP Alarms

SNMP alarms are status messages sent to your Manager from your RTU or agent.

There are two groups of alarms that an agent can send to the manager.

Discrete alarms (also called contact closures or digital inputs) can be items such as door alarms, gear alarms and other events from managed devices that have only two possible states, such as ON/OFF. The discrete alarms are "software reversible" to support both N/O and N/C alarm wiring.

Because they directly indicate the status of vital gear, discrete alarms are the most common type of remote monitoring alarm.

The analog inputs are used for tracking vital events with more than two possible states, such as temp and voltage. Each of the alarms can be assigned qualification times so that nuisance alarms can be filtered out.

Unlike discrete inputs, which are binary, analog inputs can tell you "how much?" rather than just "yes/no".

A manager can receive these alarms in two forms, either by receiving autonomous traps from SNMP enabled devices or by sending a "GET" request. Traps are messages sent by an RTU or agent, usually caused when a change of state (COS) event occurs. A get message is one that is sent from the manager to the RTU requesting status information. These types of requests can be programmed to be collected on a regular schedule rather than in the case of a COS event.

Some managers poll devices according to a set schedule, retrieving an update of all standing alarms. This can help to bring in alarms when the matching autonomous trap was not received.

A Basic SNMP Manager Can Only Manage SNMP Alarms

A basic manager only works if you only have SNMP alarms and don't need to collect alarms from other protocols. If you try to achieve multi-protocol monitoring with a basic manager, you'll end up buying additional masters for other protocols. That means more screens to watch, more hiring, more staffing, more training, and more expense.

mib flow chart
This diagram shows the movement of alarms triggered by a fault in gear, such as a generator, which is sent to the agent or RTU. The RTU translates the alarm into SNMP protocol and then sends the alarm to the manager.

What you need to do your job well is a multi-protocol master that can bring all of your alarms into one managed system.

Do not settle for limited remote network monitoring equipment. A multi-protocol device can bring different devices together into a centralized platform. This will ensure that all of your devices can visible on your network.

The Cost Savings of a Multi-Protocol Master

When you are integrating a wide variety of remote telemetry devices, including SNMP and legacy protocols, the ideal solution is to integrate all your monitoring into a single multiprotocol monitoring platform, for several reasons.

Using a single interface for all your monitoring applications will:

  • Create substantial savings in initial expenditure, operational, and maintenance costs.

  • Save your investment in legacy protocol devices.

  • Give you a smooth transition to advanced telemetry capabilities.

  • Allow you to network equipment upgrade costs over several budget cycles, since both old and new equipment types are supported by the multiprotocol master.

T/Mon Can Interpret Alarms in Over 25 Other Protocols

T/Mon, an advanced network management platform, can receive SNMP alarms with an integrated SNMP Trap Processor software module. Unlike standard managers that can only interpret SNMP alarms, T/Mon can also receive alarm messages from over 25 other protocols, including DCP, TL1, ASCII, and more.

This multi-protocol master supports your existing remotes; thus enabling you to promptly upgrade without replacing your remote devices all at once.

T/Mon Filters Critical Alarms From Unimportant Status Updates

T/Mon combines all network alarms into one Standing Alarm window, allowing the network administrator to view all standing SNMP alarms at once.

T/Mon can also group alarms into windows according to user set criteria, such as just vital alarms, or alarms from single equipment types. This prevents critical SNMP alarm messages from being lost in a clutter of routine status updates.

T/Mon Notifies the Right People When a Problem Occurs

In addition to multi-protocol support, T/Mon provides automatic text messages or email notifications of alarms, enabling network technicians to be instantly informed of a network problem no matter where they are. These plain-English alarms detail the specifics of problems, while user-defined text messages provide specific instructions for correcting network threats.

Additional benefits of T/Mon include alarm forwarding and ascending alert. This means that SNMP and other alarm messages can be forwarded according to your personal operator schedule, sending alarms specifically to scheduled operators.

SNMP alarms, as well as other alarms, can be programmed to use ascending alert. T/Mon sends alarm messages that are not responded to within a given time frame to higher-level supervisors. This assures all alarms are dealt with in a timely manner and prevents busy supervisors from being bothered by minor alarms that are easily handled by less senior staff.

If You Have an SNMP Manager, T/Mon Can Mediate Alarms to It

If you have an SNMP manager you already like, T/Mon can collect all of these alarm types, then forward them as a single SNMP stream to your preferred manager.

T/Mon has an integrated SNMP Responder software module, allowing it to forward any alarm it collects as a trap to your SNMP manager. Now, the interface that you and your staff are already familiar with (the one that could only see SNMP alarms before) will have the complete status of your network.

With T/Mon collecting your non-SNMP alarms and forwarding them to your SNMP manager as traps, you won't have to hire a lot of staff to monitor multiple screens. You'll reduce hiring costs, training costs, payroll costs, and costs associated with missing alarms on a lot of systems.

Free, No-Risk Engineering Development to Integrate Legacy Devices and Protocols

You shouldn't have to pay extra for the protocol support that you need. You shouldn't have to take the risk of paying for a solution that may not work. In today's rapidly-changing technology environment, innovation is a standard product - a commodity - and you shouldn't have to pay an extra fee for it with no guarantee of a solution.

At DPS Telecom, custom design is a standard service. Our business has been built on continuous innovation, and we embrace opportunities to design new network monitoring solutions. We have successfully adapted many types of legacy-protocol remotes to work with our advanced telemetry masters, and we can do the same for you.

Our custom solutions are backed by a 30-day, no-risk guarantee. Test the proposed solution under real-world conditions for 30 days, and if, at any time during that period, you decide for any reason that our solution will not meet your monitoring needs, you can cancel your order with no further obligation.

See also:

Trap FAQ