Networking Design and Engineering


Whether they are small-office local area networks or globe-spanning wide area networks, networks should be monitored. We commonly want to see that they are not overloaded, restricting the amount of work that people can do, and that they are not underutilized, and costing more than necessary. And then we have the computers themselves. Are they on or off? Are they running out of disk space? Are the processes running which should be running?


In this project we will be learning about networks: what they are, how they work, and how they can be monitored. We will see a variety of examples of different monitoring systems, both real-time and historical. We will set up and run a real-time traffic monitoring system on the OSC network.

As we do this we will learn Perl as a programming language. Perl is known as the "Swiss Army Chainsaw" in the Unix system administrator's toolbox. It is fairly easy to get started with and is a powerful language for many purposes. We will also be introducing the Simple Network Management Protocol, which we will use for data collection. Time permitting, students may be able to modify some of the monitoring software to monitor items such as room temperatures rather than computer traffic counts on a network.

The main monitoring tool we will be using is the Multi-Router Traffic Grapher, or MRTG. We will be bringing up mrtg on our own web server during the Institute. The mrtg software creates a series of gif file, one of which is shown below, showing the collected data at intervals of whatever the collection schedule is. (Data is generally collected at five minute intervals, so the graph shows, in this case, incoming and outgoing data rates over the last 24 hours at five minute intervals.) Additional charts show weekly, monthly and yearly summaries of the data.



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