Localize your network´s bottlenecks with sc5m.com

Troubleshooting for network operators


Telco networks grow fast and sometimes in an uncontrolled way. The increased complexity prevents simple methods of bug-fixing being successful. To keep an overview, the Network Manager needs all the information from which he or she can derive future trends. Information is needed about network traffic, number of active subscribers, protocol distribution, data flow analysis, timing properties among other relevant parameters.

Troubleshooting howto

After many years of experience we have found the following troubleshooting methodology to be best practice:

1.) Gather Information

The way to be most efficient as a troubleshooter is to narrow down or isolate the possible sources of the problem. The way to get there is with information. Therefore it is important to know as much as you can about the problem before you jump headlong into trying to fix it. Gathering information about the nature of a problem will save time.

2.) Verify The Problem

Confirm objectively the nature and extent of the problem. If you are troubleshooting your own system, you may be wondering, "Why would I need to verify the problem? I know there is a problem and I know what it is!" That may eventually turn out to be a true statement, but if you are working in a complex system, it is important to work with a clear description of the problem.

3.) Try Quick Fixes

What is a quick fix doing in serious troubleshooting practice? A quick fix is sometimes a time- and moneysaving method which can be defined as a repair action, which

  • can be performed quickly.
  • involves little or no risk of harm to the system.
  • has little or no cost.

Quick fix does not imply a temporary or substandard repair action. A quick fix is not necessarily the most likely solution to the problem, but because it is easy to perform and takes little time or expense it is worth trying. There is nothing more frustrating than spending lots of time isolating a problem, only to find out hours later that a quick fix solves the problem.

4.) Isolate The Problem

It is most important that you proceed in a logical fashion and with a plan. This part of the troubleshooting process can be the most difficult and the most time-consuming. Locating the problem can be thought of as gradually narrowing down the possible sources of the problem until at last there is only one possible source.

5.) Perform The Repair

Fixing the problem is usually pretty straightforward if you know what it is. However, there is a consideration concerning security: Make Backups! If the repair does not solve the problem, you should be able to return the system to its prior state. It might be difficult or impossible without backups.

6.) Verify The Repair

Knowing that it is fixed and thinking that your system is fixed are sometimes two different things. To be sure that full functionality has been restored, good troubleshooters test the systems they repair. Is It Fully Functional? Once you have performed a repair, it is important to test more than the immediate problem.

Hardware Problems

At this stage you might figure out that the hardware is responsible for you problems. Sorry, we do not provide technical support for hardware. Please call the vendor directly. Most vendors provide online technical support.

Test Tools

If you are sure you can exclude faulty hardware, you might check for configuration problems. A valuable helper can be a test tool, for instance a cable checker, network tester or a protocol analyzer. If you are considering purchasing one, it's a good idea to visit the following links (incomplete list)

Passive (Tektronix K1103 Protocol Analyzer) and active (Inet Spectra Network Simulator) testing gear is obtainable for rent from sc5m.com as well.

Remote diagnosis service

In case your network persists in behaving strangely, our telephonic support service answers your questions. We specialize in diagnosing and fixing circuitswitched and packetswitched telco networks. Please make sure to provide as much as possible information (see chapter 1, step 1: Gather Information) about your network, the problematic environment and the malfunction. (Sorry, we do not provide free technical support.)

On site troubleshooting service

We provide an on-site network troubleshooting service for circuitswitched and packetswitched telco network. The on-site troubleshooting service comprises diagnosis of malfunctions in your network by an experienced network specialist. With the help of sophisticated test equipment (protocol analyzer and traffic generator) existing network faults are localized and solutions for their removal are sought. A written report containing all the task activity, results and proposals will be handed over.

Network snapshot

The network snapshot service delivers a well-structured and informative snapshot of all your network activities. All parameters - among others network traffic, protocol distribution and data flow analysis - will be displayed in graphical as well as in tabular form.

Network baselining

Network relevant data and statistical data like the ones mentioned above under network snapshot service are collected on a regular basis. This makes trends visible and helps the administrator to calculate future changes in the network.

Conformance test

We carry out conformance testing and validation of signaling systems for all network entities in your circuit switched or packet switched telco network. Due to our experience in various forms of telecom signaling and test requirements we are an ideal partner to support your acceptance test.

All rights reserved.
© sc5m.com 1998 - 2004
Back to top