You are on page 1of 8

T E C H N O L O G Y W H I T E PA P E R

Protably Managing the Data Communication Network in Multivendor Transport Networks


Alcatel 1356 Data Communication Network (DCN)

The Data Communication Network (DCN) is the infrastructure enabling NMSs to communicate and interwork with the transmission equipment they supervise. Considering the amount and range of information carried by transport networks and the power, reliability and feature-richness requested of NMSs, close monitoring of the DCN is critical for service providers who want to address broadband services with short time to market and guaranteed quality, minimize the impact on the network from a problem in the DCN, and lower eld troubleshooting costs.

Table of Contents

Introduction

.............................................1

The Role of the DCN in the TMN

.............................2

DCN Maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Continuous Monitoring by a Centralized Application: The Added Value .........................................3

Conclusion

..............................................5

Acronyms

...............................................5

Profitably Managing the Data Communication Network in Multivendor Transport Networks

Introduction
Today, achieving data integration over traditional synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH)/synchronous optical network (SONET)/ wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) transport infrastructures is a key goal for operators who see their network becoming increasingly rich in the number of deployed nodes and the mix of implemented transmission and management technologies. Multiple transport technologies SDH, SONET, coarse and dense WDM, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), Internet protocol (IP), Ethernet, and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) are often associated with different management interfaces. Common management information protocol (CMIP), simple network management protocol (SNMP), and common object request broker architecture (CORBA) are some of the interfaces that may coexist in the same network domain. Furthermore, network operators must introduce new-generation

equipment next to rst generation SDH network elements (NEs) that are not yet obsolete. In such a challenging scenario, the telecommunication management network (TMN) plays an integral role in optimizing the use of the deployed facilities with minimum operational effort. Powerful, simple-to-use network management applications are a crucial factor in ensuring seamless interworking between heterogeneous generations of installed network nodes, usually coming from different vendors. Within the TMN, the Data Communication Network (DCN) is the infrastructure on which the network management applications rely to properly supervise the equipment base. The DCN conveys the information ow exchanged between management platforms and NEs, usually exploiting a mix of embedded (e.g., dedicated SDH overhead bytes) and out-of-band communication facilities (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - DCN in the TMN Architecture

TMN NOC

Out-of-Band-Links WAN In-Band Channels

LAN

Replies/Notifications

Get/Set/Action

Networking Devices

Embedded Channels

Transport Network Elements

A L C AT E L

>

Profitably Managing the Data Communication Network in Multivendor Transport Networks

The Role of the DCN in the TMN


A properly working DCN is of strategic importance to ensure the effectiveness of TMN tasks. It also allows management messages and alarms to be promptly delivered to the addressed processing components. When the DCN is not operating correctly, TMN experiences troublesome interworking and can even lose the supervision of the managed nodes since equipment alarms may be delayed or lost without maintenance personnel noticing. This can affect the ability of network operation centers (NOCs) to perform provisioning and procedures to bring NEs in service, as well as real-time corrective maintenance upon network failures. Though the network layer and routing protocols refer to a well-known set of standards, DCN design is far from being standardized and common practices vary from operator to operator. DCN design has a number of important issues to address: > Group and dimension OSI connectionless network protocol (CLNP) and IP areas (e.g., how many Layer 1/Layer 2 nodes are dened for each area, or where to place area border routers connecting the OSPF backbone) > Dene the level of resilience against DCN element failures > Evaluate the optimum mix of routers, switches, bridges and communication facilities in general, according to the relevant level of features and associated costs > Choose the rate and weight of WAN links to guarantee the right priority in channel election by the routing protocol and the right channel dimensioning against the expected throughput > Accommodate multiple networking technologies. The trend to integrate data technologies ATM, IP, MPLS within metro and core multiservice equipment makes OSI and IP DCNs share the same wire. Quite often tunneling techniques apply, allowing packets of a client network layer (e.g., IP) to be encapsulated and transferred by a supporting tunnel (OSI CLNP) through a domain where the native routing protocol is not supported.

DCN Maintenance
Once the DCN is fully established and operational, which is in most cases the result of the activity of a specialized engineering group with networking expertise, network operators generally underestimate the importance of maintenance. The DCN is considered to be a 100 percent reliable black box, not worthwhile of any preventive maintenance effort due to: > Network operation, administration and maintenance (OA&M) concentrating instead on trafc/service affecting problems > Issues in how to evaluate the status of the DCN Underestimating the importance of maintenance is common among network operators until the rst big DCN failure causes very serious or even blocking management problems and the NOC is unable to react promptly and effectively. The most common cases of DCN failure appear as loss of supervision of a group of NEs. If the failure is stable (a cable break or a node shutdown), its identication can take some time, but it could be performed with limited organizational disruption. It is rare that DCN expertise is available for prompt intervention seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Overnight, NOCs normally cover only service-affecting transmission problems and are not always allowed to investigate the DCN (e.g., to work on router/switch conguration). If the loss of NE supervision is not immediately recognized, the DCN fault location process takes much more time, requiring the intervention of experts to perform the analysis. Sometimes remote connection to routers/switches is enough. Sometimes experts go in-eld with portable protocol analyzers (sniffers) to understand what is going wrong from the DCN trafc itself. The identication of the root causes of a DCN problem from the observation of the stream of bytes owing through the Ethernet is clearly not a job for any generic telecommunication technician. In-depth knowledge of networking protocols and DCN technology is compulsory to perform the task. This expertise is not widespread in telecom operators organizations today, especially because of the high cost of training these experts.

>

A L C AT E L

Profitably Managing the Data Communication Network in Multivendor Transport Networks

Identifying the location of a DCN fault could become much more challenging when the fault itself is not stable, e.g., transitory events appearing randomly and apparently not linked to any reproducible condition. The complex task is then to nd a way to have the right skills to recognize and solve the problem. The case below reports a portion of a trouble ticket from a NOC: Currently there are intermittent periods when the management network is unavailable due to a routing instability in the Q3 layer where all nodes are unable to maintain a Level 2 adjacency with the management routers. This means that no alarms are being received during the downtime and manual intervention is required by the Service Operation Center to restore the stability of the network. Post analysis of alarms from the management routers have not been able to identify a single point where the instability originated from or to identify a possible cause of the problem The lack of preventive maintenance on the DCN can cause network operators to miss important warnings about impending threats to network manageability. The simplest case is the failure of the Ethernet connection of a gateway network element (GNE), which is not visible as an active transmission alarm and can be easily missed if the routing protocols (open shortest path rst [OSPF] or intermediate system-tointermediate system [IS-IS]) are able to automatically locate a spare route through embedded channels. In this case, the DCN is no longer protected against single failures because the redundancy is lost. Operators, however, still feel condent that their DCN is fully resilient and protected because no outstanding alarms are ashing on their screens. In short, network operators quite often plan to spend a very limited budget on DCN maintenance and then have to face unplanned and unbudgeted in-eld activities with expert engineers. DCN outages can make the TMN blind towards the network; because it can take some time to establish new transport services, the impact on the network operators business can be difcult to determine.

Continuous Monitoring by a Centralized Application: The Added Value


Alcatel pursues a more effective way to manage the DCN based on a centralized application the Alcatel 1356 DCN. This application relieves network operations by automatically detecting events that could either anticipate or provide early detection of major DCN failures. Applying routing rules from reference standards to the trafc, the application can automatically display the DCN layout, thus reporting in real time all the DCN problems by non-intrusively observing the trafc sniffed from the DCN itself. The Alcatel 1356 DCN architecture (see Figure 2) shows how specic DCN probes (a PC equipped with a LAN card) tap the Level 2 trafc from the LAN and process it to: > Automatically discover the DCN topology of the areas associated with that LAN > Detect DCN alarms > Enable the collection of performance statistics
Figure 2 - Alcatel 1356 DCN Monitoring Application

DCN Data Collector


DCN Probes sniff the flow of frames from the LAN where DCN Areas are connected to, and perform the first level of processing according to known routing rules of the standard protocols (IS-IS, OSPF)

It collects information produced by all the DCN Probes, building the overall topology of the DCN. It feeds the distributed GUIs supporting the Topology, Alarm and Performance display.

DCN Probe

Area 5 DCN Probe Area 6

Area 3 Area 2 DCN Probe Area 4

Area 1

A L C AT E L

>

Profitably Managing the Data Communication Network in Multivendor Transport Networks

Network equipment from all the major telecommunications vendors complies with standard networking protocols, making non-intrusive monitoring intrinsically suitable in a multivendor/multitechnology environment. Information coming from the DCN probes can be interpreted by a central module (DCN data collector) to provide: > A graphical view of the DCN topology, showing the role and status of the different DCN elements (e.g., active, failed, and stand-by links; Layer 1, Layer 2, end system [ES] node hierarchy) > Automatic identication of any topological change in the DCN to enable end-users to distinguish expected events (e.g., new equipment commissioned) from failures > Handling and storage of DCN alarms and performance statistics By centralized DCN monitoring, rst-level maintenance teams (typically transport service oriented personnel who are normally monitoring network behavior 24 hours a day from TMN screens) can rely on a user-friendly tool that offers a simplied, complete view of the DCN layout to assess DCN status. They can accomplish this task without specic networking skills and with the high level information needed to do the following: > Understand whether the DCN is properly working or not (e.g., be warned immediately about address duplication occurrences) > Measure DCN performance, collecting statistics that are usually of interest for a network planning department to assess DCN load and bottleneck identication > Identify a DCN problem and acquire the information required to effectively trigger second-level maintenance teams (DCN expert engineers) for a recovery action. In the end, the end the time required to locate the fault is shortened and major cost-reductions can be achieved in terms of effort spent for in-eld troubleshooting. A sample of the high level view of the DCN topology compared with raw data coming from a protocol analyzer is shown in Figure 3.

The benets of this new approach come from the potential to reduce the need for skilled personnel in charge of extraordinary interventions and the expenditure in support instruments, while improving diagnostic reaction times and preventive analysis capabilities. The latter aspect helps to guarantee that the investment to design a protected, single-fault tolerant DCN is not spoiled by hidden events and careless maintenance. No more time-consuming capturing/analyzing of MAC-layer traces to understand what is wrong and where! The investment in continuous monitoring from a single application such as the Alcatel 1356 DCN would scale as a logarithm of the number of managed nodes (it can be linear with the number of managed areas in the worst case), while a pure manual approach shows a less encouraging trend with large DCNs, in the order of some thousand elements. The availability of a DCN monitoring application is not only useful in maintenance areas, but can also help network planning teams in charge of designing network expansions or identifying DCN bottlenecks and weak points.

Figure 3 - Centralized DCN Monitoring

Normal Ethernet Analyzer

Alcatel 1356 DCN

>

A L C AT E L

Profitably Managing the Data Communication Network in Multivendor Transport Networks

Conclusion
DCN is the strategic asset enabling network management systems to supervise the transmission equipment (network elements). DCN management, including automatic topology discovery features, real-time alarm reporting, and specic tools for load assessment and bottleneck identication, is a critical point for all network operators, especially when the technology knowledge is in the hands of a very restricted set of people. Network operators are concerned about the following: > Providing broadband services with minimum demand-todelivery time and guaranteed quality of service (QoS) > Avoiding situations where a single failure DCN impairs network manageability because of inefcient usage of resources > Lowering in-eld maintenance costs, in terms of human resources and expenditure for portable instruments Giving telecom operators a user-friendly application for accessing the monitoring data of the DCN conguration, alarms, and performance statistics is a key factor in increasing the effectiveness of maintenance and planning tasks. In particular, only a very limited effort from the network management teams spent on the DCN monitoring applications can completely replace all the direct and hidden costs associated with DCN failure events and their troubleshooting. The Alcatel 1356 DCN provides a centralized, user-friendly entry point for DCN monitoring, fault localization and detection of topology changes, giving operators full visibility of the DCN layout, state, alarms and performance statistics. As a result, operators who leverage this valuable tool for DCN engineering can perform more cost-effective maintenance on their networks.

Acronyms
ATM CLNP CMIP CORBA DCN ES GNE IP IS-IS MPLS NE NOC OSI OSPF SDH SNMP SONET TMN WDM asynchronous transfer mode connectionless network protocol common management information protocol common object request broker architecture data communication network end system gateway network element Internet protocol intermediate system-to-intermediate system multiprotocol label switching network element network operation center open systems interconnection open shortest path rst synchronous digital hierarchy simple network management protocol synchronous optical network telecommunication management network wavelength division multiplexing

A L C AT E L

>

Alcatel and the Alcatel logo are registered trademarks of Alcatel. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Alcatel assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information presented, which is subject to change without notice. 11 2004 Alcatel. All rights reserved. 3CL 00469 0727 TQZZA Ed.01 18769