MSP N-central

Last Edited by Zach A

Industrial Monitoring

Background Information:

In the Industrial world of plant floor monitoring, there is just 1 monitoring solution that can monitor devices that use a CIP back-plane. That is Matrikon Allen Bradley OPC Server. You could monitor as well through RSLinx but this has limitations in historical information retention. With devices that use a CIP back-plane, you can have up to 50 devices per each ENBT or an EN2TR card or up to a virtual limit of 800 devices in a 17 slot controllogix chassis when using a Device level Ring. If not using a device level ring, that is up to 254 devices per each card or 4064 devices per chassis as a virtual max limit. Each of the ENBT devices has either a Ethernet Bus(Daisy Chain) or a Ethernet ring that uses a logical IP address layout of devices that can be monitored.


If I stuck a NCentral probe into that ring or bus, I could monitor any one of those devices using the N-central existing SNMP capabilities but it defeats some of the security controls that are necessary in customer sites, such as those that must abide by FERC or NERC regulations in the US. Further, the probe does not have dual Ethernet port functionality where I could configure it to only provide monitoring information out to the internet and gather on the other interface. N-central is extremely limited in functionality from this view for these types of devices and network architecture. Second, this would require a windows server/desktop to be installed into each ring/bus; the economics don't scale. So by being able to monitor by the CIP protocol is the only logical means I can see.


In this environment, customers would find value in receiving alerts if a device failed and having a historical place to see this performance information. They'd also find a lot of value in being able to directly access a device in a secure means. Currently, Rockwell automation does not have historical device performance trends. The only way to remotely access those devices in a CIP structure is to use RSLinx to access the web page of any of the devices through the CIP protocol.


In general this is a huge area of growth for Solarwinds and its respective partners if they were first to the market with a scalable remote monitoring and management solution. Although Rockwell, in a joint effort with Cisco, are moving towards CPWE or Converged plantwide ethernet, CIP will still be installed and utilized for decades to come given the nature and design of operational technology used in any plant.


Relevant information on the Protocol:




Idea No. 4096