IXM Technology - the Master to Network Deployment

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Nov 7, 2015 1:00:00 AM

In traditional networking management, it takes a lot of time to configure each network device with duplicate settings, as well as perform firmware synchronization.  If after deployment, an issue appears without an obvious method of solving it can quickly affect the efficiency of the network.

Advantech's IXM technology is a base protocol specifically designed for most Advantech switches.  Its design approach was based on the knowledge that devices negotiate with each other for specific purpose.  With this in mind, two directions were defined to implement IXM:  Synchronization and Supervision.   It also benefits different phases of device deployment:  Installation and Maintenance.   IXM partially accomplishes the concept of IoT, which is allowed to control everything remotely and utilizes Big Data collected from other devices.  IXM fulfills the expectations that we applied to the network:  simple, quick installation, and operation reliability.

How does IXM technology benefits at the setting?

In an IT network, adminstrators need to configure each device based on their knowledge.  With several devices, this isn't usually an issue but with tens of switches, it's a time consuming and challenging task.  There are, of course, software utilities which can help with this, but these are installed on a PC which needs to be connected directly to the switch.   Each time there is a software or firmware upgrade, the computer needs to be connected once again.  This isn't ideal.  So, how about using a Network Management System (NMS)?  Compared to the utility software, NMN runs on the concept of central management and is designed to rapidly deploy anything on any device which can be discovered. But, it's still a server-based solution and that means that an extra server-level device is needed, therefore increasing the cost.

Based on the above information, a better solution which should be portable and easy to install is proposed.  It's better if its embedded in network devices without extra cost and is quite easy to use.

Advantech's IXM technology fulfills these requirements with the following advantages;

1. Portable

2. Embedded in Network Device

3. Upgrade with firmware

4. No extra cost

5. Easy to use

6. Quick for deployment and troubleshooting

Usually, a fixed configuration is provided to establish a closed topology.  For the purposes of stability, the configuration of each device is static.  IXM allows the assignment for a fixed range of IP address to many devices at the same time, which is often the first benefit for an administrator.  Without IXM, administrators have to install the network utility first and then check that there are no extra issues like operating system dependence or revision issues.

After assigning IP addresses, the administrator may need to deploy a fixed configuration to each device individually.  It takes a lot of time and cannot be avoided.  With IXM supported devices, the administrator can copy the configuration from one device to the others.  The only limitation is that all devices joined with synchronization process should be the same series and model.


Benefits of IXM include:

1. Time-Saving: The SYNC mode allows the synchronization of device configurations and firmware from one to many. A batch process is performed automatically with the press of a button and saves a great deal of installation time.

in the SUPERV mode, it monitors the status of many devices, utilization, and statistics at the same time.  All useful RAW data is collected by the supervisor which provides an informative, friendly dashboard to the administrator.  That will save much time when having to perform unexpected troubleshooting or routine maintenance.

Configuration time is reduced by 90% based on lab testing.

2. Simplicity:  Either SYNC or SUPERV mode, a step-by-step wizard will lead the administrator  to complete all operations  in the installation and maintenance phase.

3.  Mobility and Flexibility:  IXM is designed in a standard LINUX daemon, which can be easily installed in any embedded LINUX device.

IXM also allows the synchronization of either its own configuration or any device's configuration to the others.  It will not restrict the administrators use of IXM on a specific device due to the source of configuration chosen.

IXM is easily understood since it works in the same manner as synchronizing an iPhone or iPad with iTunes. Therefore, deployment is quicker, easier, and more efficient.  If benefits the administration  for quick establishment of a network topology.  Also, the establishment of a distinct device list can be achieved by pressing the "scan" button, which obtains the system information and important function parameters of each device.

Another benefit of the deployment is firmware synchronization.  Choose the firmware location and the target devices and then perform the firmware upgrade.  Without countlessly revising utilities and a clunky NMS.  IXM accomplishes the quick installation of any topology, especially for a messy combination of network devices.

In short, IXM benefits administrators who perform network installation and maintenance.  It does more than a utility and a little less NMS, but the main advantage is that it's embedded in the switches firmware, which allows upgrades at any time, and is independent  from operating systems or physical Devices.  Advantech is about to release a series of managed Ethernet switches embedded with this cutting edge technology. 

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