Ensuring SCADA Network Continuity with Route Analytics
By Packet Design
Published 2008, Posted May 2008



In the world of "five nines" reliability mandated for electric utilities, network continuity is all-important. In the wake of the disastrous Northeast Blackout of August 2003, when 40 million people in the U.S. lost electric power and outage-related financial losses topped $6 billion, new reliability standards, driven by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), were put in place that impacted every utility company in America. IT managers responsible for the IP network infrastructure that supports Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) applications, which monitor power grids, are now expected to maintain the highest level of network uptime to meet SCADA availability and performance levels. While power utilities have been under special scrutiny, IT managers responsible for other utility and control grids such as water, waste and even traffic engineering systems are increasingly looking to ensure network and application continuity.

The sheer size and complexity of utility grid IP networks means that traditional network management systems aren't up to the task. SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)-based solutions, which focus on device status, can't detect logical network conditions such as routing failures and transient traffic congestion problems that can be just as devastating as hardware failures to application availability and performance.

This white paper provides an overview of the SCADA monitoring and management challenge, explains why large, complex IP networks need insight into their networks' "logical operations," and introduces route analytics technology, an essential part of the network management toolkit for ensuring real-time uptime monitoring and faster troubleshooting, strengthening change management processes, and providing the foresight to prepare for network continuity and disaster recovery challenges.


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