The RMON standard makes it possible to remotely monitor and troubleshoot segments of today's global enterprise networks, no matter how complex they are. This book translates the SNMP and RMON terminology into business terms so you can communicate with your network management product vendors. In addition, the book provides a close-up review of the RMON standards and walks you through the objects found in the RMON MIB modules.
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The Lone Ranger is a mythical character who rides in on an impending disaster, solves all the problems with silver bullets from his gun, and then rides off into the sunset with the townspeople never knowing who the masked stranger was that helped them out. A network troubleshooter may seem to play the role of the Lone Ranger. In both cases, the immediate problem is solved, but the solution never lasts forever in a wild western town or in a computer data network. What is needed is the silver mine from which to create your own silver bullets. RMON technology can be your silver mine and provide you with the ammunition to solve your networking problems.
RMON is an acronym for remote monitor and is the label for technology that can significantly ease the pain of managing a network. A network monitor (which is also called a probe) listens to traffic on a network and records statistics, and, possibly selected portions of the network traffic. The statistics and saved traffic are retrieved using the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) by management applications. The SNMP protocol is also used to control and configure a probe.
There has been much market hype for the RMON technology, which has lead to it being included in many networking devices. Small bits of the monitoring can be found in low-cost Ethernet repeaters. However, the complete set of features are typically found only in dedicated devices, which may be stand-alone or plug-ins to other networking devices. Software that interacts with the monitors may be integrated into a network management platform, or it may be a self-sufficient suite of programs dedicated to interacting with monitors.
The Scope of This Book
There are a number of books already in print that attempt to provide an overview of the entire Network Management universe; there are also several texts specifically focusing on the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP); some of these books even have the term RMON in their name and include a few chapters on RMON.
This book is different in that it focuses strictly on the RMON technology to help solve your networking problems. This book is written in two parts. The first describes the RMON technology in brief, at a general level, so that you can understand what benefits it provides and can determine whether it can be used on your network. Additionally, it shows you how RMON can be applied to solve problems. Several examples are included to show you RMON in action. The last part gets into the details of RMON and explains each feature and how it is used.
This book does not try to explain the details of SNMP protocol or try to explain how to read an SNMP specification of management information, called a Management Information Base (MIB) module. Only the second part requires knowledge of the SNMP protocol and the format of SNMP MIB modules. If you do not have a background in SNMP, but want to learn, then obtain a copy of the book Understanding SNMP MIBs by Perkins and McGinnis, also published by Prentice Hall. The title is misleading, since in addition to covering the format of MIB modules in detail, it contains information about the SNMP protocol.
Who Should Read This Book
This book is written for five groups of readers:
1. those trying to decide if RMON should be used for their network
2. those trying to use RMON on their network
3. those who are designing RMON into networking devices
4. those writing RMON management applications
5. those students learning about network management
In the book the term Ethernet is a label for any of the networking technologies that are similar to that specified in the IEEE 802.3 standard. Likewise, the term Token Ring is a label for any of the networking technologies that are similar to that specified in the IEEE 802.5 standard.
Abbreviations for Speed
The speed of networks is generally specified in kilo-bits per second, mega-bits per second, or giga-bits per second. These are abbreviated as Kb/s, Mb/s, and Gb/s throughout the book. A speed of 1Kb/s is 1000 bits per second, 1 Mb/s is 1000000 bits per second, and 1 Gb/s is 1000000000.
For this book, the term probe is used for any device that contains an SNMP agent that implements some of the objects from the RMON MIB modules. For example, a router that contains an SNMP agent that implements RMON objects is a probe.
For this book, the term management station is used for any device that executes application programs that use the SNMP protocol to access objects from the RMON MIB modules.
Connections to a Network
Different terms are used to label what is connected to a network. Precisely, a network interface in a device connects to a network. Many devices can have multiple network interfaces. The common terminology blurs the distinction between interfaces and devices. The result is that several terms are used, which include station, node, host, system, and device. For this book, the term device is used for a computer connected to a network and is logically considered to have a single network connection. This book also uses the term device for devices used to construct a network such as routers, bridges, and repeaters. These devices have at least two network interfaces.
This book contains facts, my experiences, and my beliefs tempered by the comments of the reviewers. A primary result of my experiences in network management is the following belief, which I call the Fundamental Axiom of Technology:
The impact of learning about a technology must be minimal and must not stand in the way of applying the technology. I believe the burden of communicating the concepts and applications of a technology should be on the creators and proponents of the technology and not on the users of the technology. Please let me know how I did after you have read the book.
The technical review by the following colleagues from the SNMP community was greatly appreciated: Andy Bierman, Russ Dietz, Lynn Kubinec, Bob Natale, Taj Tesink, and Chris Wellens. The review of the Ethernet section by Rich Seifert was quite helpful. Lastly, without the assistance from Sandy Perkins the book would have never been completed.
Leverage all the advantages of standards-based network management.
Design and deploy world-class RMON/SNMP network management systems!
The RMON standard makes it possible to remotely monitor and troubleshoot segments of today's global enterprise networks, no matter how complex they are. This book translates the SNMP and RMON terminology into business terms so you can communicate with your network management product vendors. In addition, the book provides a close-up review of the RMON standards and walks you through the objects found in the RMON MIB modules. The author, David T. Perkins, has been a participant in the development of the RMON standards from its beginning. Perkins uses many diagrams and figures to illustrate the essential elements of the RMON standards and the key SNMP concepts required to use RMON. The book will assist you in mastering the concepts of Ethernet and Token Ring operation and learn how to leverage the RMON standards, either by writing your own code or by using vendor supplied tools.
You'll discover proven techniques for building RMON-based systems that can be shared throughout a network management organization; learn how to use RMON data on a day-to-day basis; and preview the IETF's latest work on network management. Whether you're a business decision-maker, network operator, software developer, or tester, RMON represents a powerful opportunity for competitive advantage. Get RMON: Remote Monitoring of SNMP-Managed LANs, and make the most of it.
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