LAS VEGAS -- CSX Corp. is taking network monitoring to the next level as the railroad trains its sights on improving...
At an April 29 Interop session, Jim Lubcke , manager of network operations at CSX, said the transportation company is using software from NetScout and other suppliers to keep tabs on the network that supports the company's vital communications and signals systems.
CSX, the nation's largest railroad on the East Coast, serves 23 states via 21,000 route miles of track. The company's IP-based network oversees train safety and verification systems, radio communications and complex train movements, Lubcke said.
All told, the network spans some 4,000 waypoints along CSX's right-of-way, a number that will grow to more than 6,000 in the coming months.
To collect and oversee the performance data generated by those waypoints, CSX uses a suite of applications, anchored by the latest version of NetScout's InfiniStream appliance, part of the vendor's nGeniusOne network monitoring platform.
Integrated apps ensure proactive monitoring of performance
The portfolio -- which includes EMC's Smarts SNMP and Internet Control Message Protocol polling app and Hyperic's process monitoring software -- enables CSX to proactively investigate the root of network performance issues as they occur.
"To keep this going, we have to look at some key components," Lubcke said, including availability, event management, performance management of devices and network links and configuration management.
"We were reactive before," Lubcke said. "The focus was mainly on packet analysis, looking at top talkers and capacity planning."
With the nGeniusOne foundation, which is integrated with the other apps supporting its monitoring platform, CSX can pinpoint performance issues as they occur, Lubcke said.
Dashboard service monitors allow CSX staff to get a visual representation of the network; remedies can be employed much more rapidly and Lubcke said he can now share performance data with senior management in a way that helps the transportation company improve its overall operations.
"A product like this is an investment," Lubcke advised, adding that CSX is evaluating how to use the platform to keep tabs on other network operations -- including the core corporate network -- in the months to come.
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