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Book Review - Network Management, MIBs and MPLS

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2003 12:17 pm    Post subject: Book Review - Network Management, MIBs and MPLS Reply with quote

Network Management, MIBs and MPLS. Principles, Design and Implementation.

Author: Stephen Morris
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Book Specifications: 416 pages, Hard Cover
Category: enterprise network management
User Level: Advanced
Publishers Recommended Price: $44.99 US, $66.99 Can
ISBN: 0131011138
Amazon.co.uk: Network Management, MIBs and MPLS
Amazon.com: Network Management, MIBs and MPLS

From the back:

"Cost-efficiently manage and troubleshoot your MPLS network with SNMPv3", "Stephen Morris discusses how the skillful use of MIBs (management information bases) and network management system (NMS) technology can help solve some of the management problems associated with running large footprint enterprise and service provider networks", and "He (Stephen Morris) holds a master's degree (by research) in SNMP network management".


MIB, MPLS, SNMP, Network Elements, BGP, Element Management Systems, ATM, VoIP, SONET, QoS, VLAN, X25, Policy Based Network Management, IS-IS, OSPF, DLCI.

Still reading...???

If these terms are meaningless and confusing then you'll probably find the rest of the topics covered very heavy going.

To get you started....

MPLS Multi Protocol Label Switching RFC3031
SNMPv3 Simple Network Management Protocol version 3 RFC2273
MIB Management Information Base - A set of objects that can be managed by SNMP

So far in my career I've only had to deal with homogenous WAN infrastructures where network management is relatively straight forward. This book is a big step up as it covers the necessity to properly manage large disparate internetworks, label switching, and how to use SNMP to manage label switched networks..

Target Audience: In the authors own words this book is ...
suitable for Network management software developers, Systems developers looking to move into the are of network management systems development, Network managers seeking deeper insight into the area of network management,
Network equipment vendors, Enterprise and Service Provider networking professionals, Standards bodies producing MIBs for new technologies, such as the IETF, and industry-wide technology advancement groups such as the MPLS forum (among others), Students taking courses in telecomunications, computer science, or network management.

I disagree somewhat with the authors comment that
the only pre-requisites (for reading this book) are a reasonable understanding of network technology and a passing familiarity with SNMP
I believe that you should have a sound understanding of WAN/LAN technologies, SNMP, and a reasonable grasp of MPLS before trying to tackle this book.


The book consists of nine chapters, each of which is heavily but clearly subsectioned. This approach helps breakdown some of the meatier topics into more understandable chunks and allows easy reference to the required section.
  • 1 Large Enterprise Networks
  • 2 SNMPv3 and Network Management
  • 3 The Network Management Problem
  • 4 Solving the Network Management Problem
  • 5 A Real NMS (Network Management System)
  • 6 Network Management Software Components
  • 7 Rudimentary NMS Software Components
  • 8 Case Study: MPLS Network Management
  • 9 Network Management Theory and Practice

The first half of the book re-introduces us to enterprise level networks, layers 2, 3, and 2.5 (also called the sub-ip layer), MPLS, SNMP, and the skills required for enterprise network management.

As most of the required knowledge is already assumed these areas are only touched on briefly with the most attention focused on what MPLS is and how it functions, network management skills, and HP Openview Network Node Manager.

The second half (chapter 6 onwards) delves into the internals of network management systems, the MPLS MIBs, and some example network management system code.

This section really delves deeply into the MPLS MIBs and can be quite daunting on first read as it describes howto create and manage label switched networks using SNMP in significant detail. It also works through several examples of coding SNMP applications.

If it helps understand the concept think of the commands normally used to configure a router or switch (eg Cisco IOS) as a high level programming language. Using the MIBs directly is then like programming the same equipment in a low level language.

The 5 appendices include some excercises and the source code for the NMS projects detailed, though the code is also available from the publishers website albiet in an obscure location.

Style and Detail:

This isn't a novices book.

If you're not experienced with any form of network management then no matter how well written it is you'll find this book a meaningless paperweight. That said, for a knowledgable audience it is well written and covers the topic in significant detail.

Where appropriate clear and simple diagrams are used to illustrate network connectivity and make use of the industry standard icons to designate networking equipment.

The label switching MIBs are explained in detail and worked through with figures showing the structure of each MIB.

The author knows his subject exceptionally well which is important when describing a specialist area. Other specialists will be quick to pick up on errata.

Read an excert on-line


This has been a difficult book for me to review as I needed to learn several new areas and principles to be able to understand it at a level sufficient to conduct the review. I had no immediate plans to learn the basics of writing network management code in Visual C++ or Java but the examples of writing SNMP applications are presented in these languages. It was challenging but in the end very rewarding.

The sample code was not easy to locate as no url was given in the book and Prentice Halls website does not make it clear that you need to go to their author supplements section to locate it. However once located the authors supplement pages are a very useful resource.

I found it useful to have a working installation of HP Openview NNM available, this is not essential but chapter 5 is a good NNM tutorial.

It's quite clearly not a book for someone with a passing interest in networking but an excellent resource for the experienced network manager or network systems programmer especially if managing or coding for label switched networks.

There's a 24 page glossary of terms at the back and a six page list of acronyms at the front which is a lot but if you campare it to the glossary in Dune then it's not that big after all Wink!

Detail, presentation, and quality 8/10

This review is copyright 2003 by the author and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
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