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Monitoring and control of multi-layer operational networks and services

The challenge for Power Utilities in implementing their Operational Communication Network is how to manage an evolving, multi-technology, multi-vendor telecom infrastructure to deliver services with a guaranteed level of quality for multiple groups of users with different service requirements.

GE’s Sentinel delivers a management solution for supervising multi-technology complex networks. Providing a platform that aggregates, correlates and visualizes telecom data from multiple network layers and technologies into user-oriented views, driving operational decisions to restore services, notify users of potential service impacts, and meet KPIs and performance metrics. The result? Greater efficiency and productivity; enhanced monitoring of mission-critical communication services and infrastructure; and reduced downtime and maintenance costs.

Core Capabilities

  • Integrated management of complex multi-vendor networks
  • Prompt fault localization
  • End-to-end availability monitoring and measurement
  • Rapid deployment irrespective of legacy technologies

Differentiating Features

  • Functions, scale and cost optimized for grid operational communication networks
  • Fault, performance and incident management in a single integrated platform
  • Service user dashboards, impact notifications and service statistics

Optimized Outcomes

  • Enhanced operator awareness & proactive management
  • Documented & formal communication service delivery
  • Structured framework for network information
  • Comprehensive cyber security solutions
Sentinel Control Unit
Features Comparison
Technical Data

Sentinel diagram 1

Sentinel is a vendor-agnostic management platform designed to fulfill the requirements of power utilities’ operational communications.

Sentinel diagram 2

Fault & Incident Management Performance Management
  • Technology- and Vendor-agnostic End-to-end and multi-layer vision
  • Generic and simple UI (No specific skills)
  • Enable interaction of O&M actors (including remote clients, field tablets and smartphones)
  • Assist in network fault root cause analysis Rule-based notification (event, time, statistics)
  • Generate service availability/outage statistics
  • Monitor service level agreements (SLA)
  • Monitor MIB-stored performance data
  • Service-oriented User Dashboards
Configuration Management Security Management
  • Store basic Network configuration data
  • Maintain Asset information
  • Manual data population or CSV import files
  • Site Geographic location coordinates
  • Contact Coordinates for incidents, interventions and notifications (user, expert, field staff, …)
  • Unified access to vendor tools and platforms
  • Role-based access control (RBAC)
  • Password protection for server access
  • Security certificates for unambiguous server identification
  • SSH tunnel between client and server
  • Operator log management
  • Authentication through RADIUS server
  • Secure access for third party systems

Sentinel Control Unit (SCU)

Managing faults from a relatively small cluster of equipment, typically communication devices in a few substations or a single type of equipment, requires a compact and factory-prepared solution. The Sentinel Control Unit (SCU) provides a hardware-integrated ready-to-use management platform for simpler/ smaller networks (~ 60 nodes). This allows to deploy a small supervision system even faster.

SCU diagram

The substation-class hardware allows the platform to be installed in a harsh industrial environment such as an electrical power substation for a cluster’s SNMP management removing the need for an expensive industrial PC. It can be mounted into a DIN-rail cabinet next to communication or protection signaling devices and supplied from a substation 48Vdc battery and charger source. The SCU may also be used as a secondary-level platform in a hierarchical architecture for large networks. In this way, a north-bound SNMP interface at the SCU can be configured so that alarms on the SCU generate a collective event at the higher level platform. The operator can then connect to the SCU (as a client) to get more detailed indication on the alarm cause.

Connection to remote web-based client is protected with all relevant security embedded into the system (encryption, authentication server, etc.)

Sentinel Management Framework Operational Principles

Example application

Example application

Sentinel collects alarms and events as well as service performance data from devices and dedicated managers, associates contextual network and quality constraint information to the real-time collected data, and consequently generates operation and maintenance information for the communication service provider and quality of service information for the service users.

Features Comparison Table

Feature Sentinel Conventional Server 3.6 Sentinel Control Unit (SCU)
Number of network nodes (max) Up to 2500 nodes (graphical) 60 nodes (expandable to 100 in specific cases)
Number of Clients Up to 20 2
Server Redundancy Yes Not at present
Fault Management Alarm Monitoring (Graphical & Event List), Filtering, De-duplication, Acknowledge, Rule-based Notification, Operator-based Change of State Alarm Monitoring (Graphical & Event List), Filtering, De-duplication, Acknowledge, Rule-based Notification, Operator-based Change of State
Incident Management Trouble ticketing, Task Assignment, Escalation, Intervention Reporting, Asset & Service Tagging, Resolution Statistics Trouble ticketing, Asset & Service Tagging, Resolution Statistics
Service Management Service Availability Statistics and SLA Monitoring Service Availability Statistics and SLA Monitoring
Security Management
  • Role-based Access Control (RBAC),
  • Encrypted Web-service and Client to Server links,
  • Encrypted device to server links (for SNMPv3 only),
  • Client Authentication (RADIUS), User Log Management
  • 1 client with full rights and encrypted link to SCU
  • Encrypted
  • Web-service and Client to Server links, Encrypted device to server links (for SNMPv3 only),
  • User Log Management
Performance Management MIB Monitoring on demand MIB Monitoring on demand
Configuration Management
  • Asset & Service data available on right- click
  • Shows underlying assets and links for any service
  • Connectable to a Network Inventory
  • Connects to proprietary Element Managers and HMIs
  • Asset & Service data available on right- click
  • Shows underlying assets and links for any service
  • Connects GE portfolio Managers and HMIs
Embedded Management Files Incorporates GE portfolio device MIBs . Can load other SNMP device MIBs Incorporates GE portfolio device MIBs (For other SNMP device MIBs consult GE Ucom)
Sub-networks & Functional Layers Up to 10 functional layers each can be partitioned independently into multiple sub-networks. Can also regroup multiple nodes into a Super-node. Up to 3 functional layers. Can regroup nodes on each layer into Super-nodes
Mobile worker terminals Mobile (Android) Dashboards, Event List, Incident assignment and reporting Mobile (Android) Dashboards, Event List, Incident assignment and reporting

Technical Data

  • N-tiers application based on a service-oriented architecture model
  • OS: RedHat Linux (server) - Windows 10 (Client)
  • Microsoft.Net (Client) - Java (server) - PostgreSQL (database)
Server redundancy through asynchronous data replication
  • More than 1500 assets and 10 layers according to licence. 60 assets and 3 layers for SCU
  • Can be organized into sub-networks and grouped nodes and services
Up to 20 through separate licences
  • Alarm reduction (de-duplication) - Multiple alarm indications provided by the same event and element are removed (grouped) to avoid flooding the operator
  • Alarm priority and acknowledge
  • Alarm refinement - Alarm labels may be translated into explicit and vendor independant language
  • Operator-initiated change of state and status consistency check
  • Task assignment and tagging (assets and services)
  • Incident resolution statistics
  • Service availability statistics and user dashboards
  • MIB element monitoring for all SNMP devices
Root cause analysis - Dispatch of alarms and events across multiple layers of infrastructure and service in order to visualize the root cause anomalies
  • Service level monitoring with temporal analysis
  • Generates triggers on event conditions (asset and service status, service statistics, time of day) used for different actions (audible alert, SMS, email, script execute)
  • Pre-determined report generation (performance, alarms, incidents)
  • Password protected, role-based authorization (RBAC), encrypted web services
  • Client authorization using RADIUS server
  • SSH communication tunnel between client and server, security certificates for unambiguous server identification