Marines gain central management of ATM network

Marines gain central management of ATM network

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

The Marine Corps' asynchronous transfer mode network at Camp Le Jeune, N.C., has 13,000 users but supports a constantly shifting community as large as 150,000 people.

'It basically serves everything aboard Camp Le Jeune,' said Terry Maxwell, network branch head for the base's information management division.

That includes not only the largest Marine base on the East Coast but also the country's largest amphibious training center and a nearby Marine air station. The multivendor network has more than 500 switches on a 75-mile backbone connecting more than 300 buildings. Maintaining its performance is a tall order for a shrinking information technology staff.

'Our goal was not only to construct a high-speed network but also to manage it centrally,' Maxwell said. 'I wanted to implement one network management product, because I knew how expensive and prone to failure these projects are.'

He settled on Spectrum network management products from the Spectrum business unit of Cabletron Systems Inc. of Rochester, N.H.

'We now have visibility to all switches out on the network' including hardware from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and Fore Systems Inc. of Warrendale, Pa., as well as Cabletron, he said. The system has worked well enough to reduce the network management staff from 40 people to eight.

The 75-mile, single-mode fiber backbone is served by Fore Systems' ForeRunner ASX-1000 ATM switches running at the 622-Mbps OC-12 rate. Hanging off the backbone are 10 network centers, each with one or two Cabletron SmartSwitch 9000 units supplying Fast Ethernet to 320 buildings.

The wiring closets are equipped with SmartSwitch 6000 and 2200 switches, which run switched Ethernet to most desktop PCs. About 20 percent of the PCs get switched 10/100-Mbps service.

Between the Cabletron 9000s and the ForeRunners on the backbone are Cisco 4700 edge routers, which provide translation functions from Fast Ethernet to ATM. Internet access is via the Defense Department's Non-Classified IP Router Network.

Although the fiber-optic backbone serves most of the buildings on the bases, about 250 buildings have rate-adaptive digital subscriber lines provided by Westel Inc. of Austin, Texas. Many network centers are co-located with base telephone switches.

The network is divided into three geographical sections, each polled by Spectrum SpectroServer software running on a Sun Microsystems Ultra workstation and reporting to a central server. Network visibility is provided by SpectraGraph software running under Microsoft Windows NT.

Spectrum also does bandwidth and resource monitoring, allocation and configuration management.

Resource monitoring lets administrators track bandwidth usage on a weekly schedule to get the most out of existing current resources by allocating bandwidth.

The Enterprise Configuration Manager automates configuration of Simple Network Management Protocol devices so upgrades can be centrally managed.

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