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Network management in the age of the IoT has become increasingly complicated and splintered. Different people manage different systems, using tools that don’t speak the same language. The fragmentation has made it difficult for managers to monitor performance and spot problems.
But with the latest unified management platforms, it’s possible to connect and control disparate networks with a single tool. The result? Companies can simplify network management, save money, and roll out new IoT products faster.
Unified IoT Network Management: Finding a Problem’s Root Cause
Today’s networks have become so large and varied that visualizing their structure is all but impossible.
“In a network, you have islands of specialists, or element managers,” says Robert Bschorr, Senior Technical Account Manager at IT services provider Infosim. “No one has an overview because a service or a connection is not built by a single system – usually, it’s the interaction of different systems. If you have a problem, you have to look into all of them.”
Network managers need to find the troubled network segment before troubleshooting can even begin. Most cloud services, including each of the hyperscaler cloud platforms, provide their own management tools. Network managers could run each of these tools, but given the enormous variety of networked devices, this process can take days or even longer.
#StableNet eliminates production bottlenecks, allowing network managers to get products out faster and make money for the business sooner. @infosimdotcom via @insightdottech
“You’re running a ‘zoo’ of different systems,” Bschorr says. And each system has its own user interface and reporting system, making it hard for managers to see the big picture and trace problems to their origin.
With its StableNet solution, Infosim replaces the “zoo” of monitoring and management tools with a single, highly automated platform that incorporates hardware and software from many systems and vendors, enabling managers to find and solve problems much faster (Video 1).
“There’s a very simple navigation view, so you can see, “Oh, there’s something wrong in that path,” and then drill down to the root problem,” Bschorr says.
A dashboard prioritizes problems and provides alerts. Managers can also monitor network performance, either as a whole or in segments determined by geography, function, or devices.
Saving Time and Money
Using multiple network-managing tools means organizations must train their network managers on all of them. Companies also incur capital expenses from buying and maintaining the tools’ supporting hardware and software. By bringing tools under one umbrella, StableNet greatly reduces these expenses.
For example, a global bank that adopted StableNet lowered the number of network management consoles from 17 to just four. The bank’s initial savings on training, licenses, maintenance, and infrastructure exceeded 4.5 million euros.
Managing Network Scripts
To manage automated processes, networks typically use software scripts, which are written in different computer languages and scattered in various silos. StableNet provides a single repository for scripts, making it easier for network engineers to compare and develop tools, policies, and workflows.
For example, most networks lack a common backup process. “With StableNet, you can collect all the backup configurations in one place and compare them,” Bschorr says. Engineers can select the configuration that works best for their application or use it as a basis to develop a new backup tool, which they can then add to the repository for others to use. The same process can be used for other kinds of automated scripts. “It’s like having a single automation control center,” Bschorr says.
Scaling and Customization of the IoT Network
A network management solution must be able to grow and scale with the business, and StableNet is designed to do that.
“StableNet is a system that scales horizontally,” says Infosim Director of Research David Hock. “It consists of a server, an agent component, and a database component. The server component can be one or more servers, so you can basically build a cluster to accommodate network growth.”
The system runs on Intel® IoT Gateway software, which provides the building blocks for circuit, cellular, and IP IoT infrastructure. Companies can scale their services by adding more gateways. One automobile manufacturer now has more than 25,000 network elements managed by StableNet.
Businesses often customize StableNet’s out-of-the-box solution to suit their individual requirements. If they want to make a relatively simple change—such as adding a new type of device that uses standard network protocols – they can do it themselves. For larger, more complex projects—such as implementing a new application-centric infrastructure – they can get help from StableNet or its partners.
Many companies work closely with StableNet regularly. The aforementioned auto manufacturer meets weekly with StableNet experts to discuss the current state of the network and receive guidance and tips. Interacting with customers also helps Infosim, which uses its knowledge of their needs to develop new StableNet capabilities.
A Corporate IoT Connector
The agility of IT environments has moved into the fast lane with the introduction of DevOps, which brings together software developers and computer operators to jointly achieve continuous improvement of IoT products through continuous deployment. For this system to work well, network operators must be able to keep up with fast-moving software developers.
“If the software guys roll out products at a very fast pace, and you cannot keep pace by configuring your network, there will be a production bottleneck,” Bschorr says.
By making configuration and connectivity easier, StableNet eliminates production bottlenecks, allowing network managers to get products out faster and make money for the business sooner. And by providing a common platform where all key business groups can collaborate, it helps companies build a brighter, more agile future.