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Visualize, Manage and Control System Environments with Inventory and Topology Mapping Applications

Network Management

Network Management Featured Article.

October 23, 2012

Visualize, Manage and Control System Environments with Inventory and Topology Mapping Applications

By Rachel Ramsey
Content Director

In a networked environment, the majority of network equipment – especially carrier class equipment – comprises many interrelated components that need to be individually managed by the management system. For each node in the network, there are many different elements that need to be discovered, monitored and managed by a Network Management System.

For an NMS to manage an individual network element or a set of network elements, the network elements first needs to be represented or modeled as an object which can be stored in the database to perform management operations.

The WebNMS Topology Service provides ways to model networks and network elements that have been discovered by the Discovery Service as managed objects. It allows for the networks, NEs and even components within the NEs to be modeled as objects called ManagedObjects, and makes it possible to manage the objects individually or as a group of related objects. As soon as network elements are discovered by the Discovery Service, the mapping of these discovered elements into Managed Objects is done by the Topology Service.

The capabilities of this module are easily customizable and extensible. This ensures minimal effort to develop specific applications on top of the WebNMS framework.

The volume of devices and applications in IT infrastructure requires inventory and mapping tools to manage and control system environments. 

In a blog post, Eric Wegner, business development manager at Zoho (News - Alert) Corporation, explains how inventory and topology mapping applications help managers visualize networking gear. The mapping application allows users to see the spatial relationship of the device and their links, and see the status and performance between them. The mapping can be traced back to the system engineer or operator who is responsible for them.

As an audit feature, user actions are recorded with timestamps. Knowing who did what and when to a device is imperative in resolving issues, troubleshooting and keeping the network up.

Image via WebNMS (Blogspot)

The Discovery step provides physical and logical links between devices. The common protocols for discovery are CDP, LLDP, PING, SNMP, TL1 and CORBA for the infrastructure discovery and protocols like RMI, SOAP and REST for the application discovery.

It’s like a CAT Scan of your system environment.

Inventory discovery and mapping connections start a discipline that makes the operator staff accept a common data source. Since this data source is fluid, re-discovery can happen on a daily basis.

“It can be a real eye-opener,” said Wegner. “It’s a snapshot in time where leadership can act upon, prioritize tasks and assign the right people. If network or device changes are necessary, you can establish the process to get the right people to approve, assign the right people to perform, then see an audit if it needs to be revisited.”

Edited by Braden Becker

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