GIS Enhanced TCP/IP Networks Monitor System

Veaceslav SIDORENCO <svv@svv.mldnet.com>
Technical University of Moldova
Chisinau

Abstract

Internet and wide area corporate Intranets contain networking equipment that is generically distributed in geographical space. Development of modern desktop Geoinformation Systems (GIS) opens the possibility to use them as important instruments for real-space multilayered topological presentation and real-time current state monitor of Wide/Global Area TCP/IP-based networks.

This paper discusses practical example of GIS-enhanced TCP/IP Wide Area Networks monitor subsystem of MoldTMN system having next objectives:

 

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction

    Across the evolution of Internet there has been made a lot of research and development in the domain of TCP/IP networks management and monitor basics producing well known SNMP series of protocols (SNMPv1 - RFC 1155, 1157, 1212, SNMPv2 - RFC 1441 1452, SNMPv2u - RFC 1909, 1910, SNMPv2c - RFC 1901 1908, SNMPv3 - RFC 1901 1908, 2271 2275), OSI CMIP protocol and CMIB base, RMON Management Information Base (RFC1271, 1757) and it's RMON-2 extensions etc.

    Above basic standards are widely used for building such industrial network management software packages as HP Open View, Cabletron Spectrum, IBM/Tivoli Systems Net View and many others. Every network management system deals with the necessity to build and to maintain topological diagrams of networking equipment indicating relative logical and/or spatial positions and interconnections between them. Early solutions in mentioned domain uses simplified abstract diagrams network topology presentation without encountering real space positions of network elements and real trace particularities of physical information transport routes. Usually there is only a possibility to use some bitmap-based background image map for near-real space equipment position indication. As a rule it is not possible to process spatial information in such systems.

    A simple example of fruitful geographic maps used for Internet activity spatial presentation can be seen on MIDS Internet Weather Report site [1].

    Because of very fast growing Internet and corporate TCP/IP Intranets the necessity of real-space presentation of network's topology becomes an actual problem. This gives the possibility to increase efficiency and accuracy of network management systems and to improve user interface.

    Geoinformation systems

    Geoinformation systems belong to yang branch of New Information Technologies that quckly rises up their functionality and quality. According to one of classical definitions [2] GIS are:

    "An organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information." This definition acknowledges the many components necessary to make a geographic information system function. GIS provides a valuable tool for information analysis, automated mapping and data integration.

    The common denominator in GIS initially was geography only reflecting spatial distribution and location of natural objects. Modern Geoinformation systems becomes not only stand alone mapping utilities, but can serve as appropriate integration tools necessary for distributed engineering systems presentation, management and processing (electric power distribution systems, water provisioning systems, telecommunications systems, transport systems etc.) [3,4].

    A Geoinformation Model of Telecommunications Systems was proposed for the MoldTMN project [5]. This model require fundamentally or as supplementary information, the projection of the technical view of managed objects onto a geographical reference system which is usually taken from geodetic survey data. The technical view is enhanced to include such data in order to carry geographical information. In addition, the usual representation of such data, cartographic maps readily available from topographical institutions in various scales, can be brought into electronic form to serve as a model of nature onto which the technical view can be projected. The model thus evolves to support some or all features of a geographical information system.

    MoldTMN project

    Telecommunications system of Republic of Moldova (New Independent State from Eastern Europe) consists of a mixture of old and new transmission and switching infrastructure having both analog and digital subsets and now is under modernization. In order to improve main technical parameters of national telecommunications distributed enterprise a new Telecommunications Management Network (MoldTMN) and system recently was projected and is on the final steps of implementation now [6]. According to ITU-T's recommendations, the architecture of MoldTMN contains next generic subsystems and services necessary to perform [7]:

    General architecture of MoldTMN is presented on next the figure:

    The project of national-level TMN assumes to implement hierarchical structure containing a set of geographically distributed LANs mounted near and connected with every significant Network under Management nodes of transmission and switching telecommunications sub-systems via appropriate Q-adapters, Network Elements Agents and Managers. Main servers of every LAN are linked together via star-topology leased lines realizing corporate wide area TCP/IP-based Intranet (WAN) or, according to ITU-T definition of TMN - Data Communications Network (DCN). Overall operative monitor of primary and secondary telecommunications system is hierarchically performed by local service departments and by National Telecommunication Control Center (NTCC) according to corporate instructions and regulations. The top-level control and monitor LAN is placed on NTCC equipped with powerful servers and large-area/projecting monitors in order to contiguously process and two-way transport the flows of test and control information.

    Telecommunications management system's software consists of distributed network management agents, placed on different mediation elements, databases management systems, servers software, local operator's workplaces software and monitor centers software. Most of servers use OS Windows NT 4.0 Server whereas workstations are equipped with Windows NT Workstation, Windows 95/98 and in some cases - with Microsoft DOS.

    Fault and alarm management subsystem of MoldTMN

    Fault and alarm management subsystem (FAMS) of MoldTMN includes a set of agents and monitor engines that produces information flows, reporting about different abnormal events and situations in monitored equipment: hardware and software faults, security system alerts, traffic overflows, broken communications links etc.

    Ping Monitor Module (PMM) was projected to become integral component of FAMS responsible to perform scheduled verify of given list of IP addresses of MoldTMN's DCN hosts and workstations for "aliveness". PMM is modular and can be used both alone and as integral component of networks monitor systems.

    The architecture of PMM is presented on next figure:

    GIS-based Graphic User Interface Form (written in Delphi) is main control block of PMM. It gives the possibility to perform configuration of PMM and to maintain Ping Configuration and Schedule Database, that is used to establish the list of names and/or IP addressees of monitored hosts, the time period of network scanning, the length of ping test packets, alerts generation latencies and other parameters. It is possible to establish destination addresses necessary to send alert messages and/or alerting e-mails to system administrators or other persons responsible for DCN management.

    It also contains DCN network's current state monitor window that uses a reparented MapInfo GIS window, launched in background mode and connected with User Interface block via Microsoft Windows OLE Automation mechanism. This window contains a package of electronic map layers saved in GIS Database that are divided into two classes:

    Every of above classes uses a background set of common layers having administrative district borders, pointed localities, roads, water and other geographic objects and their tables/descriptors. Both GVM and DVM can show DCN network element's current state marked by different color of used symbols:

    An example of faults alerting GVM of MoldTMN's DCN current state window is presented on next figure:

    The map of Republic of Moldova from this example shows next layers: REGIONS, CAPITALS, DCN_LINES, DCN_HOSTS. It is possible to show other GVM layers using MapInfo toolbar. Above map is dynamically updated by ICMP Ping Engine in accordance with the results of last ping test session made. It is very powerful from the point of view of integral real-space wide area network current state monitor. Central office management operators can establish very quickly faulty area and localize faulty nodes.

    It is possible to make zoom-in and zoom-out in main or cloned map window in order to better accommodates to user needs. A sample of zoom-in cloned window is presented on next figure:

     

    ICMP Ping Engine is the core work block of PMM, responsible to generate ping packets and to process answers. It is implemented as multithread Windows NT service (daemon) capable to interact with User Interface Form, to get control information from Ping Configuration and Schedule Database and to save retrieved information into Ping Test History Database. The access to last database is shared by multiple services, that can generate common SQL Select - based reports or produces Dynamic HTML pages generation on demand via Active Server Pages mechanisms. User Interface Form contains selection tab that can be used for current state details demonstration:

    In this example first column identifies the name of host, second column reflects the name of locality, where it is placed and third column contains updated average ping answer time. Configuration databases gives the possibility to work using literal host names or numerical IP addresses, that can be entered manually instead of addressing to DNS. This facility improves the reliability of monitor system in cases of unavailability of DNS.

    Another tab gives the possibility to view history of ping test results for any selected host from the configuration list:

    In order to facilitate configuration processes PMM has the possibility to run network topology autodetect procedure that scan diapasons of indicated IP addresses and write found active IP addresses and their resolved names into Ping Configuration and Schedule Database. The remaining manual operation consists in right geocoding of found hosts.

    It is possible also to instruct PMM to read HOSTS file from Windows NT configuration folder in order to use it as base for PMM configuration.

    One of the most significant and useful properties of GIS consists in possibility to generate quickly different kinds of thematic maps and to label objects with a variety of data. Monitored network nodes can be easily labeled with IP addresses, host names, ping time delays etc. An example of map fragment labeled with average ping answer time using bar diagram is presented below:

    It is interesting to notify that GIS continue to develop in the directions of using up to date Internet technologies. Creating of new PMM version based on ActiveX geomap technology and MAPX COM module will make next improvements in the development of PMM. This version will open the possibility to create web pages having GIS-enhanced ActiveX objects, oriented toward TCP/IP distant networks monitor.

    Conclusion

    Practical integration of modern Geoinformation Systems with network management, test and monitor systems had demonstrated good results and had proved the initial presumptions about necessity to implement natural user interface for presentation of spatially distributed network objects. Network monitor operator's work becomes more easy and more efficient after introduction of GIS-based user interface.

    References

    [1] MIDS - Internet Weather Report. http://www.mids.org

    [2] Geographic Information System (GIS) Definition. http://gisdasc.kgs.ukans.edu/dasc/gis.html

    [3] MapInfo Desktop Mapping Software. Think Visually. MapInfo Corporation. 1994. 12 p.

    [4] MapInfo Data Visualization Maps, Spatial Analysis and Geocoding Intranet and Extranet Solutions. http://www.mapinfo.com

    [5] Sidorenco V. Geoinformation Model of Telecommunications Systems. Proceedings of ICMCS-II. Vol. II, Technical University of Moldova, Chisinau,1997. Pp. 102-104.

    [6] Ciclicci V., Dolenco S., Sidorenco V. The Architecture of National Integrated Telecommunications Management System. Acta Academia. International Informatization Academy (Branch of Moldova). Chisinau: Evrica, 1998. Pp. 100-107.

     [7] ITU-T M Series Recommendation M 3010. Principles for Telecommunications Management Network. ITU. COM 4-49-E. Revised 1996, 97 p.

    Acknowledgments

    I would like to thank Francois Piette for Delphi TCP/IP components programming and Richard Dorogan for MoldTMN software modules design.

    Author

    Veaceslav Sidorenco - Associate professor of Technical University of Moldova, Doctor in Technical Sciences, Doctor Honoris Causa and Honourable member of International Informatization Academy, member of ISOC, BUFSAI, EUNIS, SPIE. Domains of scientific interests and researches: Informatization and Internetworking, Telecommunications Management, Geoinformation Systems, Technical and Medical Diagnostics, Stochastic Linguistics and applications etc.