White Paper – Utilizing SiteBoss Networking Tools
White Paper Introduction
There are a wide variety of networking challenges facing telecom network operators at their remote telecom sites. More and more systems (eg. Generators, HVAC, DC Rectifiers) at remote telecom sites have network based “smart” interfaces that could provide valuable data to help manage the network. The Asentria SiteBoss has a wide variety of both hardware and software based network functions that can help in the management of these sites.
More network devices
More and more equipment at a cell site is becoming network enabled. DC power plant controllers, generator controllers, HVAC systems, UPS’s, IP cameras, tower light controllers, environmental monitoring systems, and many other devices were not traditionally on the network. All of this equipment can provide valuable operational data and allow for remote troubleshooting and control when connected to an operator’s network. Just as all this valuable data is coming online, IP addresses on customer networks are becoming more scarce. New technologies like 5G and expansions of existing LTE technologies are gobbling up IP address for customer traffic, making it difficult to justify using IPs for management and monitoring. This problem is especially prevalent in IPv4 networks. Even if more physical network ports could be added to site routers and switches there are simply not enough IP addresses on the network to connect everything an operator would want.
Other network issues
Adding enough physical ports to cell site routers or switches can be expensive even if there are enough IP address available. There are other specialized issues to cell sites where specialized hardware can be helpful. Particularly for things like -48V powered POE injectors that are specialized for the telecom environment, or when a traditional RJ45 copper Ethernet connection to a cell site router is not an option. A SiteBoss can also act as the “approved” secure device for use on the network, keeping all the underlying “smart” devices on a separate network. This can reduce costs related to doing security audits on every smart controller that might be used on a network.
Why use all the networking tools?
Why use all the Asentria SiteBoss tools? Ultimately the goal is to provide easier and more complete access to southbound devices. Additionally using the SiteBoss’s networking tools can reduce overall software integration costs when bringing southbound devices online. This issue is often overlooked by network operators, but poses a major barrier to using more smart devices. Most of these devices use standardized communication protocols like SNMP or HTTP, but with enough variation in the implementation of those protocols that there is not a good method to easily integrate them into existing operational software.
In the case where there is an existing OSS/NMS software, integrating a new SNMP device can be quite costly. For some systems there is a significant one time cost to add the module/agent for a new DC plant, generator, or other devices. For other OSS/NMS systems there is simply the cost to pay internal staff to do all the work to integrate devices into the NMS/OSS and build workflows etc. When you start to look at the number of manufacturers and number of generations of equipment in a network, the integration cost of bringing all the devices of one type (eg. Generator controllers) can be prohibitive to a point where anything beyond the most basic implementation is ever attempted. For example if you have three manufacturers of generators, and three generations of generators from each of those manufacturers, each with different methods of being controlled, that could involve paying for software integration to nine devices into your NMS/OSS. Many older varieties might not have any networkable interface, requiring direct sensor monitoring (eg. Fuel level sensors) or serial interfaces to query data. When using the SiteBoss you can instead do the integration to your NMS one time for the SiteBoss. Once integrated the cost to add a new type of equipment to the network is only the relatively low cost of a SiteBoss unit split across all the devices on a site.
Today’s telecom operators are faced with operating networks that are ever more relied upon by society during emergency situations. Through a crisis, the expectation is that these networks will continue to operate regardless of conditions. At the same time, it is expected that costs for operating the network will always trend downwards. SiteBoss units provide a powerful tool to network operators and field technicians to provide both a wealth of information regarding conditions at a site, as well as the ability to remotely control functions at the site without a field visit.
This is a white paper summary, and a complete version with additional details can be downloaded in a PDF document here: