When some people think of network monitoring, they think of the angry phone calls they get when customers lose network service. Wouldn’t it be better to find out that a system was going to fail before it becomes a PR disaster? Network monitoring systems have been around from a while for the big telecom companies but they can be very useful in any sized network. There are many reasons to use such a system, but here’s my top three:
1) Detect Damage Before Network Outage Occurs
I’m often surprised to learn that lots of companies don’t perform regular maintenance OTDR scans and only send someone out when there’s already a known problem. Simple network connectivity tests aren’t really enough to detect problems preemptively. It’s also not practical or cost effective to have a network technician scan thirty routes every hour.
Luckily, in recent years companies have launched automated OTDR scanners (an example is the OTU-8000 from JDSU) to make this type of detailed analysis available. Humans can’t be taken totally out of the equation; a knowledgeable expert still needs to configure the system, (but it doesn’t take nearly as much time as manually scanning all those routes.)
This long winded introduction brings us around to the meat and potatoes of a system like this: alarms. If a human being was interpreting one of these scans they’d have to have a pretty good idea of what the graph and events table should look like and be able to spot the differences. This task naturally lends itself to computers which can compare the scan to hundreds of others stored in memory. Once a set signal degradation threshold is reached, the system can notify the network admin that a potential problem has happened.
So what does this mean for you?
The system can pinpoint where the damage occurred, right down to the nearest street address or manhole. You can drive out there and fix it on a scheduled maintenance call. Asset Management Software like FiberBase by Corridor Technologies Inc. can be used to chart the alert on a map and store information about when it was resolved, by whom, etc. It works really well when used with our own FiberSentry hosted network monitoring solution. If you’re interested in protecting your network send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Stay tuned, in the next post we’ll go over the last two on our list!
2) Archive OTDR traces to Preserve Historical Data
3) Detect Periodic Outages without The Need for Manual Scans
Are you using a system like this to monitor your network? Let me know in the comments!