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Optical/IP

XML: WLAN Managed in Style?

Some industry figures are starting to think about eXtensible Markup Language (XML) as a better way to represent the inner workings of a wireless LAN and to pass information about these networks to enterprise management software.

Data about the performance of a wireless LAN network is usually transmitted to management software in simple network management protocol (SNMP) format (see Wireless LAN Class Wars). But some are finding SNMP limiting when describing data about 802.11 networks.

XML -- as some of you no doubt remember -- is a language that allows IT folk to develop their own tags to define how data is interpreted and transmitted between applications (which in this case means the wireless hardware itself and the management app). Developing wireless-specific XML tags could enable vendors to send more data down down the pipe about 802.11 networks than SNMP can represent.

"Anything that improves the amount of information we get is better," says Greg Murphy, COO of wireless LAN management software developer AirWave Wireless Inc. On a recent Unstrung Webinar, Ike Nassi, the CTO of Firetide Inc., even talked up XML as a way of pulling better information from wireless mesh networks.

This idea isn't news in the wired world, where many are already looking to the Web standard as a more sophisticated way to grok what's happening on your network.

But to make XML work for wireless LAN, vendors would need to get together to create XML interfaces on their products and then get together to define some standard XML tags for wireless LAN management.

Potentially, this could make the business of managing wireless LAN networks via software in the data center a whole lot easier, because, rather than having to build software interfaces for separate third-party access points and switched infrastructure, vendors could just build XML interfaces.

But, as Craig Mathias, analyst at the Farpoint Group, pointed out at a recent Aruba Wireless Networks user roundtable, vendors need to step up in order to make XML a viable standard for wireless LAN management.

"Someone has to take the lead," opines Mathias.

Any takers?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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scseth 12/5/2012 | 1:23:28 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? FYI - Roving Planet already has an open architecture using XML web services. This has been extremely helpful creating customized scripts for customers that needing some extra tweaking.

For example, a hospital recently created a script that locates where a device was last seen, even if its not still on the network.

A school also created a script to limit the amount of concurrent connections. If the limit is 5, and a student logs into to 6 devices, the oldest connection is dropped.

Beyond customized scripts, the architecture lends Roving Planet the ability to integrate into other products, excepting messages and changing policies as a result.

[email protected]
manendra 12/5/2012 | 1:21:55 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? XML Network Management Weblink from Wipro Technologies
http://www.wipro.com/prodesign...
manendra 12/5/2012 | 1:21:55 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? Mechanisms for Device management using open standards like NETCONF are being disucssed in IETF netconf wG. The netconf agents embedded in managed devices will have direct XML interface to management systems (NMS/EMS).

As discussed in the article, use of SNMP for configuration of devices has issues in device configurations due to scalability and lack of programmatic interface. Similarly CLI interfaces are proprietary for vendors which make it difficult to work with where multivendor devices are deployed.

Third party development frameworks are available that dramatically reduce the time required to develop XML interfaces for network elements.
These framework include components like Embedded Webserver, XML parser and Session Management, that can be directly used on any device.

These framework helps address issues involved in the use of SNMP and CLI and provide XML based device management interface.

Wipro Technologies is the first to offer a fully functional vendor independent development framework based on netconf protocol ver 03.

regards
Manendra

[email protected]
wonderfull 12/5/2012 | 1:21:45 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? Does does XML help with scalability? Any data?

boobasan 12/5/2012 | 1:20:30 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? > XML Network Management Weblink from Wipro Technologies
> http://www.wipro.com/prodesign...

Oi.. If wipro sez it's good, it's gotta be real.
boobasan 12/5/2012 | 1:20:30 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? > Does does XML help with scalability? Any data?

How would it?

There's nothing about XML that would help anything scale.

Remember 10 or so years ago CORBA was supposed to solve every single problem. Well it didn't. SNMP? CMIP? Now XML.

XML and related (webservicie) technologies (like SOAP) are great mainly because:

1. ease of machine parsability.
2. ease of machine formatting.
3. you have sort of simple default backwards compatibility built into the protocol (the things you don't know you ignore.) So what this boils down to is that you don't have to recompile and alter your client applications each time your XML apis change, unless it's a dramatic change.

These are a big deal.

Addressing large scale inter-system interactions through SOAP is a very naive thing to do. XML is verbose. Very verbose. Imagine doing anything large scale? There are ways around it mostly rooted in storing things in files in XML format and then transporting these files.

Cheers,

b.
walter_100 12/5/2012 | 1:18:59 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? Which are the popular Web-based device management tools? I heard that AdventNet is pretty cool.
Any others?

Also do they offer integrated CLI, SNMP, HTTP management?
boobasan 12/5/2012 | 1:18:54 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? > Which are the popular Web-based
> device management tools?

AdventNet is one of the few EMS-ish tool companies left around. Dorado Software is pretty much dead. This is a dead market that nobody wants to throw money at. If anyone is getting into NM, it's mostly on the OSS side.

> I heard that
> AdventNet is pretty cool.
> Any others?

Cool but largely useless. Good for building simplistic low scale device management type of things. Major issue with products like AdventNet is that they don't do that much for you. Especially if you want to rely on XML for all your management infrastructure, in which case you would be MUCH BETTER OFF rolling your own. Also, if you use something like AdventNet, forget scaling.

> Also do they offer integrated CLI,
> SNMP, HTTP management?

Only in a rudimentary way. Don't expect miracles.

b.
walter_100 12/5/2012 | 1:18:53 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? boobasan,
You seem to be intimately familiar with these tools. We are building a small appliance and need a few management mechanisms. Anything you'd recommend?
We don't wish to build anything from scratch.
boobasan 12/5/2012 | 1:18:51 AM
re: XML: WLAN Managed in Style? > You seem to be intimately familiar with
> these tools. We are building a small
> appliance and need a few management mechanisms.
> Anything you'd recommend?
> We don't wish to build anything from scratch.

with XML you build nothing from scratch. All you need to build an XML (SOAP)-based management systems like parsers formatters, transport libraries are freely available. They are free as well. SO are some object DB adapters. So it's not that you would have to do everything from scratch.

Also, have you looked at using some J2EE-ish things like JBOSS to build your framework upon. YOu can get a much quicker gratification.

Drop me a line: [email protected]

b
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