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First of all, you might not have a choice. Upper management may have simply mandated that you forward all your network management data from whatever system you're using now to a central SNMP or TL1 manager.
If that's your situation - or you already know you're interested in protocol mediation - feel free to skip ahead to "How does protocol mediation work?"
But maybe you - or your boss - need to see why a protocol mediation solution is a good idea. What specific benefits will you get from protocol mediation?
Here's three. Protocol mediation will lower costs; preserve capabilities; and maximize efficiency.
Let's consider your current situation. You're moving, or you've already moved, to SNMP or TL1 alarm monitoring, but you have a lot of previously installed equipment that does not support SNMP or TL1.
What are your options? You can:
Let me show you why Options 1, 2 and 3 are bad ideas ...
If you had a handful of small, cheap non-SNMP devices in a network of mostly SNMP equipment, I'd tell you to go ahead and replace them. But that's probably not your situation.
I bet that, if you're reading this white paper, you've got enough non-SNMP or non-TL1 equipment that the thought of replacing it all makes you go green.
Depending on the size of your network, the cost of a forklift swapout of your non-SNMP and non-TL1 equipment can range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
And it's not just the cost of replacing equipment. Do you have the manpower to install all that new equipment? And how much will that cost you in overtime?
The bottom line is, keeping your non-SNMP and non-TL1 equipment in place is going to save you a ton of money ... more than enough to justify the much smaller cost of a protocol mediation solution.
What's the real value of an alarm system? It's easy to think of alarm monitoring as just an expense ... one that maybe you can live without.
If you've got an SNMP management platform that monitors most of your major communications equipment, do you really need to worry about that section of old analog radio sites in Cow County?
Absolutely. If those radios go down, it could kill service to a large section of your network. Those folks up in Cow County are your subscribers, too ... and they'll switch to another carrier as fast as anyone, if you disappoint them.
And in the long run, monitoring all your sites is cheaper than keeping them invisible.
Your older sites are just as expensive to maintain as any site in your network - possibly even more expensive, given the age of the equipment. Proactive alarm monitoring will dramatically reduce your maintenance costs.
If you can monitor those sites in real time, you can find out about problems when they're simple and cheap to fix. Without monitoring, you won't find out about problems until they cause a service outage - and that usually involves thousands of dollars of equipment damage as well.
Let's say you do monitor your non-SNMP/non-TL1 equipment … but it's through a separate, unintegrated, legacy alarm system. You've got everything covered, so you don't need protocol mediation, right?
Actually, trying to monitor by watching two or more screens is almost as bad as not monitoring at all. Tracking network alarms across different screens and interfaces is hard work. It confuses even the best system operators.
Sooner or later, someone's going to miss a major alarm - especially if people have gotten into the habit of really only looking at one system, "because that's where all the important stuff is."
What's more, your non-SNMP/non-TL1 alarm system is probably an older system, possibly installed in the 1980s along with those analog radios in Cow County. It may be breaking down a lot, and it's certainly difficult and expensive to maintain. And your older alarm system doesn't support the tools you need today, like 24/7 pager and email notification.