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Abstract -- Improved Network Management Using NMW (Network Management Worm) System Network and Application Engineering Track
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Improved Network Management Using NMW (Network Management Worm) System

Ohno, Hiroyuki ( hohno@is.titech.ac.jp)
Shimizu, Akihiro ( akihiro@is.titech.ac.jp)


1. Introduction

We and the WIDE project have been developing various network management systems for the nation wide computer networks for more than five years. WIDE/PhoneShell [1] is one of the products of our activities. It enables network managers to communicate with computers via telephone without using computer terminals. Under WIDE/PhoneShell environment, network managers can send command and data to computers by using DTMF signals and computer can send messages to managers by pager, telephone, and facsimile. WIDE/PhoneShell provides front-end part of the network management systems. Then, we have decided to design and implement of the back-end part. As the result of the decision, we made the NMW system [2]. NMW is short for the Network Management Worm.

2. Network management using NMW system

NMW system consists of several programs and they support to exchange information and commands between hosts to manage networks. The information and commands move around hosts, thus they "visit" many hosts like the worm programs [3]. However, NMW system never uses security holes such as the internet worm did in 1988, but use some previously installed programs with authentication mechanism that are part of NMW systems. NMW can also be categorized a kind of "agent" systems.

NMW system has the following futures:

  1. NMW system can exchange worms even if they don't have IP reachability. Because NMW system is designed to be able to exchange worms by E-mail, uucp and so on. Thus, they work without problem, even if some of the hosts are over the intermittent links. When they back to the host where they start (the origin host) but connection to the host is lost, they can wait until the link is established again.
  2. Once worms start the origin host, They don't communicate the host until they go back to the host. Thus, network managers can use NMW system in high RTT environment. NMW system may also be categorized a kind of advanced RJE.
  3. Worms can go around or patrol several hosts at a trip. Thus, when they move to other hosts, they don't have to go back to the origin host every time.
NMW system has been developing since 1992. The first version NMW was available at the end of 1992.

3. Related Approach

General Magic Corp. has been developing MagicCap and Telescript. Their approach may be similar to our system. However, they are general purpose commercial products, but ours is specialized for the wide area network management and all source codes will be available by anonymous FTP at the end of next march.

4. Implementation NMW system

NMW system consists of three important programs. They are WSD, OWL, and WORMC.

WSD (Worm Support Daemon) program sends or receives worms, and it forwards received worms to OWL. OWL (OWL is Worm description Language) is an interpreter for the received worms. It reads worms and executes the commands, if they are allowed commands on the host. WORMC (WORM Controller) is user interface program for the NMW system. Network managers control worms by using this program.

The body of worms is almost LISP (scheme) based text file. When they are sent to another host, they are ciphered by using PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail) like mechanism to keep security and authentication.

5. Experimentation

We are testing NMW system in some networks that are belonging to the Department of Information Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology. Worms are patrolling many hosts and come back to the origin host with precise information when they find malfunctions of the network. They sometimes beep pagers of network managers with warning messages using WIDE/PCS (Pager Control System), if they cannot go back to the origin host because of network malfunctions.

6. Conclusion

NMW system is designed and implemented to the nation wide network management. It is tested in some local area networks and works well. We think it will be widely used in the WIDE internet soon.


We would like to thank all of the members of the WIDE project for their active discussions and suggestions.


Hiroyuki OHNO. Improved Network Management using WIDE/PhoneShell. In Proceedings of INET'93. Internet Society, August 1993.
Akihiro SHIMIZU and Hiroyuki OHNO. Network Management System by The Network Worm. In Proceedings of The 2nd Conference on Distributed System Operation Technology. IPSJ. DSM-9407012, pp.1-9, July 1994. (In Japanese)
John F.Schoch and Jon A.Hupp. The `Worm' Programs -- Early Experience with a Distributed Computation. Communication of the ACM, Vol.25,No.3, pp.172-180,1982.