State model diagrams - A systems tool for teaching network technologies and network management
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
There are a range of network management tools. One of the simplest, but most commonly used, is the hierarchical text based Command Line Interface (CLI). However, CLI commands typically provide a lot of unnecessary data. Furthermore to manage one protocol operating on a single network device may require a number of different CLI commands. These problems are exacerbated when managing an operational network consisting of populations of different devices each running a number of different protocols. The GUI based CiscoWorks appears to be not widely used. State Model Diagrams (SMDs) extract and diagrammatically integrate the output from different CLI outputs and hence succinctly describe protocol operation. Furthermore, SMDs may be used to describe not only different protocols but also different network devices such as routers, switches, wireless access points etc. SMDs also provide top down decomposition thereby enabling a large complex network to be partitioned into independent units of an amenable size. Using SMDs it is possible to examine the overview of an entire network and also obtain increasing levels of detail whilst still maintaining links and interfaces between the different levels. SMDs have been successfully used as the pedagogical basis of network curriculum. The paper presents the results of a further more extensive pedagogical evaluation. Furthermore, SMDs were evaluated as a network management tool. The results clearly demonstrated that SMD’s were found to be as useful as the CLI for all aspects of network management and, significantly, more useful than Ciscoworks.