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Running head: THE MAKEUP OF AN NMS 1

[Title Here, up to 12 Words, on One to Two Lines]

Kiel Hawkins

Devry University
THE MAKEUP OF AN NMS 2

The makeup of an NMS

When a Network Management System (NMS) is mentioned of it brings to most network

managers minds a piece of software or an appliance they are familiar with and use every day. In

reality a network management system is more than just software, it consists of the devices,

systems and processes in place that allows the whole network management to take place. This

paper will discuss a handful of those pieces such as the manager, agent, MIBS, collectors and

probes as well as the management network. These pieces allow the system to function as a whole

and to perform its tasks.

When referring to a manager in regards to an NMS we are not talking about the person

managing the network, but the device that is doing the managing. In many ways the manager

works like a client in a server/client relationship. This is an asymmetrical communication that

involves the manager and multiple agents in somewhat of a reverse relationship than that of

server and clients. In server/client communication the server is dishing out information to many

client devices. In the manager/agent relationship, many agents are dishing up information to the

one manager, making the manager much like a client and the agents like servers. The manager

will take data from the agents, transform the data into something readable to the user and present

it. It will also be able to keep historical records of data to be able to show trends and allow for

projections to be done. Overall, this is the interface that users will interact with and manage the

network from.

Management Information Bases or MIBs for short are much like a database that contains

information about an agent that is being managed and monitored. The MIB should not be

confused with a real database. It is a way to view the device itself, not a database in which
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information about the device is stored. This view is a proxy for the network element that is being

managed, which is an actual device that is a part of the real world (Clemm,2007). This means

that while you are looking at the MIB, it is being updated continually with data from an actual

device. There are many ways that the data can be collected and a handful of protocols. The most

common protocol is SNMP. According to Microsoft Simple Network Management Protocol

(SNMP) is a popular protocol for network management. It is used for collecting information

from, and configuring, network devices, such as servers, printers, hubs, switches, and routers on

an Internet Protocol (IP) network. Microsoft Windows Server 2003 provides SNMP agent

software that works with third-party SNMP management software to monitor the status of

managed devices and applications (Microsoft, 2003). SNMP has multiple versions, with the

most common used being SNMP v2 and SNMP v3. Version 3 offers encryption with SNMP to

allow for SNMP traffic to travel securely across the internal network.

Collectors and Probes are what actually gather data from the various network elements

and bring it back to the network manager. Collectors are more of a passive data collection

method. They watch traffic as it traverses network devices or loggers that watch for syslogs on

network devices. Probes are a different matter and perform an opposite function of a collector.

The probe performs active data collection when it polls different network devices for information

or does ping/DNS tests to see if certain devices answer. This is always something to consider

when planning as all of this information needs to traverse the network and does take up

bandwidth.

Lastly we come to the management network. This is a secondary sub-network that is

either part of the existing network or an additional network that is solely for the network traffic

generated by the NMS. Its a bit of a quandary when you are running your management network
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over your data network that is being managed. If the switch goes down and you can no longer

communicate with any of those devices, then you will be blind to anything else going on in the

network. Many NMS are connected to their network elements through a secondary network that

is only used for management traffic. In addition to being fault tolerant and redundant, it also

keeps the management traffic off the normal data network, leaving that bandwidth for more

important applications.

Overall, you can see how a network management system is much more than a single

piece of software. All these different moving parts must be in place and functioning properly to

be able to give a clear view of the network. Without that clear view, correct decisions cannot be

made and the whole system will break down. Proper planning for the NMS implementation will

allow you to account for failures and be sure that your NMS has an uptime equal or greater than

your network itself.


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References

Clemm, A. (2007). Network management fundamentals. (1 ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Cisco

Press.Last Name, F. M. (Year). Book Title. City Name: Publisher Name.

Microsoft. (2003, March 28). What is snmp?. Retrieved from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-

us/library/cc776379(v=ws.10).aspx