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IMS technology


ESA bulletin, June 1999


  • Klaus-Juergen Schulz, Directorate for Technical and Operational Support, European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt, Germany
  • Luc Lechien, Aethis, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

The prevailing concept of Integrated Network Management in the past has revealed inadequate in many practical cases. Omnipotent monolithic systems, generic enough to cope both with detailed device management and with more general functions at the level of the network or even of the services required heavy development efforts for producing never complete rigid solutions.

A more pragmatic strategy permits to delimit the scope to a representative subset of typical cases. This allows to find simple individual solutions that can be loosely combined to form a prototype system, with the objective of deriving systematic techniques applicable for real operational environments.

This implies the careful selection of some key system and software requirements:

  1. Standardise on the use of the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) SNMP is the standard network management protocol of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Internet Protocol (IP) family. It is used for the exchange of management information between two conceptual entities: a manager (typically a managing application) and an agent (e.g. the management interface of a network device, or an element management system). It provides three basic communication interactions:
    • Get-Requests allow a manager to enquire the current value of selected variables of a Management Information Base (MIB) instrumented by the target agent, i.e. monitoring.
    • Set-Requests provide new values to be assigned by the agent to the given MIB variables, i.e. control.
    • Traps are asynchronous notifications delivered by an agent to a manager upon detection of a particular condition (e.g. an alarm event).
    Given the tremendous success of SNMP, this protocol is selected for the exchange of management information between the IMS and, preferably, high-level interfaces provided by element managers or, by default, the lower level MIBs supplied by agents directly embedded in the equipment. A flexible solution, based on the LT-301 small adapter from SNMP Research Inc., also allows to add SNMP support to legacy devices that can only be controlled by messages and commands from their console port.
  2. State-of-the-art off-the-shelf Network Management Platform

    A network management platform provides a set of basic building blocks, e.g. for event handling or graphical network map animation, which can be customised for specific network management applications.

    After a comparative analysis, the HP OpenView Network Node Manager (HP-OV NNM) product has been selected as the core platform for the IMS.

    This platform offers a high stability for the custom built applications and assurance of endorsing important new network management technological trends. It is presently the market leader. It is also rather flexible and open, minimising the development effort for those custom applications designed to take advantage of the built-in platform features.

  3. Use of Web-based technology for the export of high-level views

    The IMS intends to provide a synthetic and intuitive model of the communications network. This high-level presentation does not only concern the network operators but is also useful to the end users. The easiest way to achieve a widely distributed access is to make use of the World-Wide Web HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and JAVA technology. But, for avoiding unnecessary work, it is better to rely on the standard export mechanism inherent in the network management platform, which will benefit from future enhancements.

The complete article from ESA Bulletin can be found here.



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