Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: Netcordia

This is monitoring and analysis for the most complex networks—even offering PBX–vendor-specific VoIP modules.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Jun 12, 2008
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Netcordia, Inc., headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, is a provider of network automation software to the world's most complex and mission-critical networks.

The company was founded in 2000, and has been recognized by numerous organizations as a key emerging company in the network management sector. Netcordia claims to have assisted as more than 200 leading healthcare, financial services, academic, service, and government organizations with their overall network management challenges, including Ameritrade, the U.S. Army, Black and Decker, the University of Chicago, FannieMae, Oppenheimer, Lockheed Martin, Neiman Marcus and Sybase.

Netcordia is venture capital funded, and has sales offices throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Netcordia provides a multi-vendor network management solution, and the company claims its is the only system available with a built-in analysis engine to help optimize performance and enhance security across an entire network infrastructure.

Netcordia's NetMRI system looks at five elements of network management operations:

  • In-depth Data Collection
  • Expert Rules and Best Practices
  • Analysis, Proactive and Multi-vendor Monitoring
  • Detection of Policy Changes
  • Correction Actions

The system is also designed to take configuration, performance, security, compliance, and change management into consideration when performing its analysis-because all of these issues are related. It can also monitor environmental conditions relating to temperature, power, voltage, and air circulation, as these critical issues may impact the overall operation of the network.

Three models of the NetMRI system are available:

  • The single-processor NetMRI Campus is designed for small networks, in a single-processor, portable, or rack-mounted unit. It handles up to 200 network devices and 5,000 interfaces.
  • The dual-processor NetMRI Enterprise is designed for large networks, and can work with 200-2,000 network devices, and up to 5,000 interfaces.
  • The dual processor NetMRI Operations Center can accommodate 20,000 routers and switches and up to 500,000 interfaces, and aggregate the data from as many as 40 NetMRI systems, including devices, interfaces, neighbors, VLANs, subnets, and inventory.

Supplementing the basic NetMRI technology is an extensive array of add-on modules that extends the system's capabilities based on specific technology requirements.

The Application Flow Analysis module brings a real time application flow perspective to network troubleshooting, and provides the relative mix of applications, source-destination pairs, top talkers and listeners, and classes of service in use at any given time.

The Quality of Service module is used to ensure end-to-end QoS across the network for all traffic, including data, voice, and video.

The QoS module works with the VoIP Technology module, providing insight to detect voice path issues, trace and analyze call detail records (CDRs), and evaluate and monitor device QoS configurations.

Together, the two modules help the NetMRI system collect and analyze configuration data from the key infrastructure components of the network, including routers, switches, and all VoIP-enabled devices.


Netcordia Path Diagnostic Chart
Path Diagnostic Chart
Click to view full size image

The Firewall Security Services module automates the analysis and detection of problems related to firewalls and router access control lists (ACLs). Using an expert analysis engine, this module allows the system to uncover and identify problems based on the firewall's performance, configuration, and rule settings.

The Policy Management module catalogs configurations, monitors changes, enforces policies and standards, and executes changes. It automatically archives device configurations on an hourly basis, and automatically stores a copy of the new configuration whenever it detects differences.

The IP Telephony for Cisco module automates the data collection and correlation of both voice data from Cisco CallManager and network data. This module gathers voice Call Detail Records (CDRs) from the IP PBX, analyzes those records on a daily or (more frequent) basis, and creates a Path Diagnostic Chart, thus providing an overview of the VoIP processing throughout the network (see Figure, right).

Similarly, the IP Telephony for Avaya module collects similar data from Avaya systems. For both telephony modules, the system uses the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to capture the Management Information Base data from key infrastructure components, including routers, switches, and some VoIP-enabled devices. Integrated with the CDR information, NetMRI then identifies hard-to-find issues, wherever they may occur, which can negatively affect QoS.

Further details on the Netcordia architecture and products can be found at http://netcordia.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.

Author's Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E., is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

Article courtesy of Enterprise VoIP Planet, © 2008 DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved

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