Control Network Diagnostics

March 4, 2011
There are lots of tools available to test and manage corporate or business networks, but how many options are there available to perform the same role on the control side of the firewall? One would think that the Physical Layer tools (Ethernet) will be the same however if you are trying to work on  Layers 5+ of the OSI model it gets a little more difficult because the market size is not there to justify the development.

There are lots of tools available to test and manage corporate or business networks, but how many options are there available to perform the same role on the control side of the firewall? One would think that the Physical Layer tools (Ethernet) will be the same however if you are trying to work on  Layers 5+ of the OSI model it gets a little more difficult because the market size is not there to justify the development. Adding another layer of complexity to this problem is that Industrial devices are in many cases more susceptible to ‘unexpected’ messages or packet types than nodes in the business environment and of course the network diagnostic messages cannot have an impact on the highest priority control information so the tools must be as minimally invasive as possible.


Ideally of course the tools should still be able to communicate any alerts or messages to a central location, database as a minimum otherwise how can they be used to monitor a network. If the tools need to be directly connected to the device or subnet being monitored that effectively means they cannot be used for diagnostic purposes and are only good for troubleshooting because they get connected AFTER a problem has been found – not the right way to go for 100% availability.

Any suggestions out there on tools able to do all these things? If so, please share.

I am off to the Eighth Annual Oil Sands Conference (http://www.isaedmonton.ca/OilSands/) in Fort McMurray next week Tuesday and Wednesday March 8-9 and will share some insights from that event with everyone next week.

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