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SNMP Alarm Monitoring From Your Smartphone

The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP protocol) has become the standard protocol for remote monitoring of managed systems. Since its creation in 1988 as a short-term solution to manage elements in the growing Internet and other attached networks, SNMP has achieved widespread acceptance.

SNMP was derived from its predecessor SGMP (Simple Gateway Management Protocol) and was intended to be replaced by a solution based on the CMIS/CMIP (Common Management Information Service/Protocol) architecture. This long-term solution, however, never received the widespread acceptance of SNMP.

SNMP monitoring tools can help you if you have a telecommunications network spread out across a large geographic area, regardless of your industry.

It's a simple, open protocol and is most commonly used for many monitoring units today. It consists of 5 SNMP TRAP commands, also called SNMP messages - such as trap messages. They allow the transfer of information between your RTU and the SNMP HMI (also called a manager or master station).

But, in today's world, it's not enough to just have an easy, open protocol. To have a system that can successfully manage and monitor your managed devices, you have to have the right gear. SNMP is only one small part of the monitor network system. RTUs are important, but if you have more than a few sites, the SNMP Manager is the key to your success.

SNMP Alarm Manager Checklist: What your SNMP Manager Should Do.

SNMP can do a lot to make your network alarm monitoring more cost-effective and your network more efficient - if you clearly identify your network monitoring goals and have the right tools to achieve them.

For your network management system to be reliable, your SNMP manager needs to have at least a few key features that allow you to know exactly what is happening at all of your remote sites. These basic features include:

  • Mediate several protocols to communicate with all of your equipment.
  • Send detailed alarms to the appropriate network administrator.
  • Have a user-friendly web browser interface for easy alarm viewing.
  • History, trending, and root cause analysis.
  • Supports over 25 protocols: ASCII, DCP, DCPF, DCPX, DNP3, E2A, SNMP, TABS, TBOS, TL1, and more.
  • Supports legacy devices and protocols from Badger, Cordell, Granger, Larse, NEC, Pulsecom, and Teltrac.
T/Mon mobile web interface on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry smartphones
The T/Mon web interface is accessible on any smartphone with a web browser. Android, iOS/iPhone, and BlackBerry smartphone examples are shown above.

Knowing what kind of SNMP manager is right for your network can be tricky, but being able to identify the most important factors in order to make a decision is key - especially because these factors will directly affect the price of your SNMP manager.

The key questions to ask yourself are:

  • How many alarms do you need to collect?

  • How many sites do you monitor?

  • How many users do you need to support?

  • How much data processing do you need to do with your alarms?

  • If you have a relatively small network, a small or medium SNMP manager is a great upgrade choice for you.

Smartphones - Monitoring Devices of the Future, and the Present! See Your Entire Network in the Palm of Your Hand.

If you're responsible for remote network sites, you know you can't always be in front of a monitoring terminal. Sometimes you're in the field. Sometimes you're at home. But, wherever you are, you always need to know about critical network threats.

When it comes to maintaining your network uptime, you absolutely have to know when there's a problem - no matter where you are or the time of the day. It's essential that your monitoring alerts can be received 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - either by a central master station, a NOC (Network Operations Center), or on your phone.

With the popularity of smartphones, it is also essential for companies to offer a mobile platform to monitor your SNMP devices on. If you have a large number of remote sites, this feature can be especially helpful, as you can check your units from anywhere, as long as you have a cell phone and internet access.

Of course, it's easy enough to monitor a small network (10 sites or fewer) with direct text messages/emails from the RTUs themselves to your smartphone. You could also theoretically access the web interfaces of each RTU from your phone, but it's unusual for those interfaces to be designed with smaller smartphone screens in mind. If you're looking to monitor SNMP from your smartphone, however, you probably have a larger network that justifies a central, aggregating SNMP manager.

What you need is an SNMP manager that has a smartphone-specific interface: either a mobile-formatted web interface or a dedicated app. You shouldn't always have to use this (a big screen is still convenient when you happen to be at your desk), but you should be able to seamlessly switch to your Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, or other smartphones when you're out in the field.

Here's a video example of a Smartphone mobile browser from the web:

The T/Mon SNMP Manager - Everything you need to Monitor your SNMP and Non-SNMP Gear.

A major drawback with using basic SNMP managers is that they can be limited to SNMP devices only. For a network of devices that use other protocols (such as TL1, TBOS, TABS, or ASCII text messages), other alarm masters will be needed to manage those devices. This may add extra screens to your network monitoring system. It may also require more staff and training to monitor.

A good network management station will be able to handle a multiple varieties of protocols so that all information about your sites can be accessed from a central information hub.

A multi-protocol master alarm system can join SNMP devices with other devices to present a common interface. All the events appear on a single management and control interface. This gets rid of the complexity of a lot of screens, additional operators and training.This can have significant cost advantages for your company.

One quality SNMP manager is the T/Mon Alarm Master Station by DPS Telecom. In fact, it is more than an "SNMP manager", because it's compatible with a range of other standards (ex. DNP3, Modbus) and various legacy and proprietary protocols.

It does have a smartphone-compatible web interface, however, and all those other protocols just mean that you're not limited to monitoring SNMP traps from your phone - you can monitor just about anything. All your equipment can now be seamlessly monitored by one Master Station - all from your phone.

Aside from mediating over 25 protocols and the mobile friendly feature, both the web interface and the mobile platform allow you to track history and trend analysis of you alarms. If there is an alarm that has a pattern (ie a short that cuts power every time the sprinklers outside turn on) you will be able to detect it through trend analysis. Root cause is also a major feature, allowing you to only receive critical alarms.

The T/Mon can send detailed alarm notifications via SMS message or email. As soon as an alarm is sent to the manager, the appropriate tech or supervisor is notified. But this notification goes above and beyond cryptic numbers and abbreviations that need to be decoded.

The notifications sent from the T/Mon are detailed allow you to prepare to fix the problem before you send your tech hours to the site. You can send the tech with the right information and equipment the first time, saving you time, money and costly truck-rolls. You will be much happier and so will your techs.

The T/Mon also offers many other features, but if you need something that DPS doesn't automatically include, give them a call! DPS Telecom manufactures all units in house, which gives them the flexibility to custom manufacture any device to your specific needs.

Want a custom fit without the custom price tag? DPS is the solution for you. By using a combination of 80% pre-designed features and 20% new features, you get exactly what you need without breaking the bank. There's no more buying capacity you don't need or compromising on the features you really do need.

You can't afford to not monitor your remote sites and gear. You need an SNMP Manager with smartphone capabilities that fits your needs and budget. Call DPS Telecom today for more information or to get a Pricing Quote.

You can avoid the risks (and guarantee the benefits) of your SNMP implementation by working with an experienced vendor who can help you accurately determine your network monitoring needs. To learn more, call 1-800-693-0351 and ask for your free Network Monitoring Needs Analysis.