A Resilient Multicast Network with High Availability and Monitoring System

ABSTRACT

Most of the companies in Nigeria including the banking industries offers their new staff basic training and send other staff on developing training and programs. The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN absorb large number of fresh graduate every years plus the number of existing staff, the bank spend huge amount moving its staff for training; by so doing the bank will improve, strengthen and empower their working force. Due to cost and risk involved in transporting staff around the branches, the company’s board of directors has decided to adopt the use of video communication that could support either real-life streaming or recorded formats to be deployed on the company’s existing network. Due to the nature of the resources that would be transmitted on the network, the company is looking into having the network designed as a resilient network.

In this project, an IP multicast network prototype is designed to offer the bank a multicast system with efficient high availability and a monitoring station which is cost-efficient and mitigate the risk involve in transporting staff around the nation. The project consists of researches made to determine the best approaches to implement load balancing, fail-over in a multicast network. The research areas include IP multicast protocols, load balancing techniques, video/audio codecs, network management protocols and monitoring tools. The research findings were used in building an artefact to illustrate the multicast network between the companies; Abuja branch to the Lagos branch. The prototype was built to meet the company’s requirements – multicast network with adequate load balancing and fail-over with a monitoring station.

In order to verify the functionalities of the artefact produced, numbers of laboratory test were carried out. The entire test carried out shows that all the implemented protocols and techniques are working as expected. Also, the protocol implemented to provide the network with high availability was ensured by creating a backup link in case of any failure and efficient load distribution. And multicast traffic is monitored by implementing a monitoring tool with adequate network security incorporated, in the entire system by introducing Virtual Private Network technology (VPN) and Simple Network Protocol (SNMP).

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 PROJECT OVERVIEW

The rapid increase in the use multimedia and computer-based technique, sophisticated multimedia application such as live video streaming have been found as major traffic on the Internet. The traditional use of one-to-one communication is supported by TCP/IP protocol is no longer suitable for these applications. For the past years, there has been increased interest in researching on multicast services which support one-to-many communication (Cha, Ahn et al. 2001). Multicast service are capable of supporting multimedia application such as video/audio on-demand, teleconferencing and it also offer efficient use of Internet resources (such as bandwidth). In multicasting, data packets are sent from one source to different receivers by sharing the network bandwidth available, this is achieved by sending just one copy of the packet.

When deploying a multicast network to handle multimedia applications or real-time traffic, there is every need to provide efficient and adequate delivery which makes is necessary to investigate the technologies and protocol that will provide a secure, reliable and high availability multicast system. In order to achieve a reliable multicast network, there should be need to eliminate any point of failure; by so doing the network could deliver at higher availability rate.

However, there are issues and challenges in deploying multicast services despite the advantages. Most complex network supporting critical network resources are built on complicated techniques and components. Therefore, the network will require adequate control and management protocols, tools or software to manage and control various packets going through the network. The management activities will be defined specifically in the management protocols (Zhang, Wang et al. 2006). Such policy could be monitoring video packets, delay or jitter in the network and so on.

The purpose of this dissertation is to research the different technologies available to build a multicast network with high availability and incorporate a monitoring system. These features will be built in an artefact for my client (which is expected to scale up in real life scenario) and will be
critically evaluated based on research made.

1.2 CLIENTS OVERVIEW

My client, Mr Stephen Swales a member and senior lecturer of Computing, Engineering and Technology, University of Sunderland, England has agreed to represent the Central Bank of Nigeria based in Nigeria. He is standing in as my client considering the distance and availability of meeting with a real representative of the bank. Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a banking institute based in Nigeria. The company’s mandate stated in the CBN Ordinance of 1958, CBN Act No.24 of 1991 and CBN Act, 2007 summarized the function of the company (Ibeabuchi, Omotor et al. 2007):

i. Issuing of legal tender currency (notes and coins) in Nigeria;

ii. Maintaining and safeguarding the currency international value;

iii. Maintaining of Nigeria’s external reserves;

iv. Promoting the currency stability and financial system in Nigeria; and

v. Banker and financial adviser to the Federal Government.

The bank’s cooperate head quarter is based in the country’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also known as Abuja and the head branch is in Lagos. The Abuja branch organises and control other branches, while the Lagos branch houses the data server and other resources documented. The two sites are connected as intra network through a secured VPN tunnel. This will ensure a secured connection between the two sites keeping all network resources safe. The bank has been maintaining its standard by rendering adequate training and updating the staff.

Trainings are done by transporting the staff to different part of the nation form one branch to another. And the bank staff population increases every year, hence increasing the cost of operation. Therefore, the bank’s board of directors have decided to adopt the method of training the staff via video communication which could be real-time, recorded and could be saved for easy access or storage. By so doing, the company plan to reduce the cost of training staff and still keep up with the standard of their workers.

1.3 CLIENT ISSUES

The institution is made up of various department and branches in different parts of the nation. The bank absorbs new staff ever year and spends a lot of money sending them for specific job role training in different branches. And also send old staff for developmental training in new technology and various sectors of the institution. Therefore, the only way the bank could cut cost and facilitate the training is to set up video streaming between the branches in different locations. This will reduce or eliminate the moving of staff from one location to another.

The design proposal will implement multicast technology to stream video from one site to another.

However, the company wants to ensure a resilient multicast network; a multicast network with high availability and a monitoring station based in another location which will serve as backup in case of failure. Therefore the prototype will include an IP multicast network with efficient redundancy and load balancing technology with a network management protocol to monitor the availability and traffic going through the system.

1.4 CLIENT REQUIREMENTS

Referring to the issues described above, the client has come up with the following requirements. The required prototype is expected to solve the problems.

(i) To design a multicast network system prototype.
(ii) To decide and employ the most efficient protocol for deploying fail-over in a multicast
network.
(iii) To establish a monitoring system for the multicast traffic.
(iv) To ensure efficient fail-over system between the two sites.
(v) To implement a backup system for the sites in case of link failure.
(vi) To produce a detailed report with suggested solution and design for the network.

1.5 PROJECT OBJECTIVES

The aim and objectives of this project is summarized below:

(i) To research and critically analyse journal articles on how to deploy high network availability
in a multicast system.
(ii) To research and critically analyse available journal articles to design a working multicast
network with load balancing and fail-over system.
(iii) To investigate the available video codec suitable for a multicast network.
(iv) To evaluate the recommended fail-over solution and backup system in multicast network
implemented in the network prototype.
(v) To critically evaluate the complete project (practical and research) and outline any area of
future study or recommendation.
(vi) To produce a Resilient Multicast network system prototype.
(vii) To evaluate clients feedback and requirement.
(viii) To submit a complete dissertation on the project.

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