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FAQs - Monitoring Software Communications Protocols

Software monitoring communications protocols related information covering a range of protocols used to communicate between networked devices and servers including UPS systems, air conditioners, DCIM and temperature monitoring & control devices.

MQTT stands for MQ Telemetry Transport and is a lightweight and low bandwidth ‘publish-subscribe’ network protocol for transporting messages between devices, usually over TCP/IP. MQTT is a commonly used communications protocol for Machine-2-Machine (M2M), Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices including environment monitors, and mobile applications, allowing them to communicate and report their data to a master station i.e. a Cloud-based portal or in-house server or computer running the appropriate monitoring software.

MQTT-flex is a NETIO extension of the standard MQTT protocol. The extension uses a configuration text file to specify the MQTT message structure, the MQTT broker address where messages are sent, and the periodicity. MQTT-flex is designed to work with Netio smart power monitoring & control and remote reboot devices.

LoRa stands for ‘Long Range’ and is a communications protocol for long range, low power, wireless device communication and is a communications method for IoT devices. LoRa uses a license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands; 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (Australia and North America) and enables long-range transmissions of up to 10km with la ow power consumption.

LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and is used for user authentication and authorisation. LDAP used Microsoft’s Active Directory service to perform this role. As LDAP uses TLS (Transport Layer Security), connections and message between client and server are always encrypted. LDAP also uses TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) to reduce the changes of dropped requests. LDAP is simpler to set up than RADIUS but adds additional network overhead. LDAP does not support user accounting and has to use Syslog to accommodate this. LDAP does not support multi-factor authentication (MFA).

RADIUS stands for Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service and is a networking protocol that provides centralised authentication, authorisation and accounting management for users to connect to and use a service. RADIUS does not encrypt any of the attributes passed between client and server, except passwords. A RADIUS server therefore provides a relatively simple way to connect and authenticate a device that is not part of a Microsoft Active Directory domain. RADIUS can be used with other security mechanisms including virtual private networks (VPNs) and supports multi-factor authentication (MFA) and the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) used in local area networks (LANs).

Syslog is a network standard for message logging that allows for separation between the software generating messages, the system that stores them and the software that reports & analyses them.

LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and is a standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals, based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies. LTE is the technology behind 4G and is sometimes referred to as 4G LTE. LTE is slower than “true” 4G, but significantly faster than 3G. LTE Cat 1 was designed for Machine-2-Machine (M2M) and industrial IoT applications and provides a faster 10Mbit/s maxikum downlink speed and 5Mbit/s uplink compared to the oeak downlink speed of 300Mbps provided by LTE.

REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. A REST API is an application programming interface (API or web API) that conforms to the REST architectural style and allows interaction with RESTful web services. Devices with a REST API can exchange information with third party systems and devices for monitoring and control purposes.

Redfish DMTF is a standard API (application programming interface) that provides a RESTful interface for the management of servers & storage (including cloud), networking, virtualisation, and converged infrastructure devices. The DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force) is non-profit industry standards organisation that creates open manageability standards covering diverse emerging and traditional IT infrastructures.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and provide a way to access files, file transfer and file management over a reliable data stream. FTPS adds an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to the FTP protocol for additional security. An SSL certificate helps to provide a secure channel between two devices that are connected over the Internet or an internal connection.

SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol. Both FTP and SFTP provide a way to access files, file transfer and file management over a reliable data stream. The protocol was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force. SFTP is sometimes referred to as SSH File Transfer Protocol and works by using a secure shell data stream. SFTP secures a connection and uses an encrypted format to provide a high level of protection whilst transferring data.

SSH stands for Secure Shell and is a cryptographic network protocol that allows network services to operate securely over an unsecured network. Typical applications include remote command-line, login, and remote command execution. Any network service can be secured with SSH.

iPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6 and is the preferred version of the Internet Protocol (IP) for standards-based inter-networking methods used in packet-switched computer networks (LANs and WANs) and internet applications. iPv6 supersedes iPv4 as it uses 128-bit IP addresses rather than 32-bit IP addresses. IPv6 therefore increases the number of IP addresses available for device connections. IPv6 also allows for more efficient routing between IP addresses making networks easier to manage.

A virtual serial port is a software-based serial port that either does not connect to a hardware-based serial port, or adds functionality to a hardware-based serial port through software extension. Virtual Serial Ports provide a GUI and command-line application control and allow data and signals to be transmitted without any physical null-modem connections and use of DB9 or DB25 connections. A virtual serial port emulates all configuration parameters including baud rate, data bits, parity and stop bits.

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and is a language that uses tags in a defined structure. XML is designed for data files and primarily data exchange between applications and for publishing documents where it describes the content structure. XML is used in Microsoft Excel and Word, and an XML data structure can be transferred in a text tile (.xml). XML can be used as a data structure for reading and writing REST APIs.

TELNET is derived from the phrase “Telecommunication Network” and refers to a TCP/IP-based protocol used in local area networks (LANs) and internet applications. TELNET runs over a TCP/IP connection and provides a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communication facility using a virtual terminal connection. Uses include editing server files, running specific programs and checking email. Some servers enable remote connections using Telnet to access publicly available data. TELNEt is not normally encrypted.

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is an application-layer protocol used for transmitting hypertext and hypermedia documents in HTML between web browsers and web servers. HTTPS is a more secure and encrypted version of HTTP using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Modbus is a serial communications protocol using RS485 originally published by Modicon in 1979 for use with its programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Modbus is typically use within industrial environments and building management applications. Modbus is an open protocol and a method for transmitting information over serial lines between electronic devices. The Modbus messaging protocol defines the rules for organising and interpreting the data independent of the data transmission method. The device requesting the information is called the Modbus Master and the devices supplying information are known as Modbus Slaves. In a typical Modbus network, there is one Master but can be up to 247 Slaves, each with their own unique Slave Address (1 to 247). The Modbus Master can also write information to the Slaves.

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation and is a platform in-dependent data transfer format. The principle advantages of the JSON protocol are its simplicity and human-readability, with a unified format and low-cost data volume. A JSON data structure can be transferred in a text file (.json).

SNMP stands for Simple Network Management Protocol can be defined as version 1 (v1), version 2 (v2c) or version 3 (v3). SNMP Is a UDP (Use Datagram-based Protocol) for monitoring and managing IT networks and services. SNMP can be used to collect status information about compatible IP-connected devices and change configuration requests. The protocol uses the Manager-Agent principle. The Manager collects and process data, and the Agent reacts to messages from the manager and provides status reports. SNMP is designed for managing many network devices at a time including uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), storage devices, battery monitoring systems and communications links.

SNMPv2c is virtually identical to SNMPv1 but adds support for 64 bit counters. SNMPv3 provides enhanced security over SNMPv2C by adding the User-based Security Model (USM) for message security and the View-based Access Control Model (VACM) for access control to the framework architecture.

MQTT stands for Message Queuing Telemetry Transport and is relatively simply protocol for exchanging messages between devices and principally Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The MQTT protocol is designed for large networks with low data traffic and is designed to minimise data volumes. MQTT uses TCP for data transfer and may be encrypted with SSL. The protocol uses a ‘publisher-subscriber’ data transfer model and requires an MQTT Broker to use as a central hub. An MQTT Broker acts as a central hub and is typically Cloud hosted. MQTT publishers send messages and MQTT subscribers receive them. Several subscribers can receive messages on the same ‘topic’. Within the topic, messages are exchanged as they are received by the MQTT Broker and sent to the subscribing devices. A device can also be a subscriber and publisher at the same tome for some topics. e.g. an electrical socket publishing measured values (Amps, Volts and kWh) whilst reacting to control commands.

CoAP stands for Constrained Application Protocol and is a RESTful application protocol running over UDP, used for resource-constrained, low-power devices in lossy networks. CoAP is especially suited to the deployments of a high number of end devices within a network. These constrained devices are referred to as “Nodes” and the CoAP protocol allows the “nodes” to communicate with the wider Internet using similar protocols.

Zigbee is a protocol and standards-based wireless technology used for low-cost, low-power, wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) and internet of things (IoT) networks. Zigbee is similar to WiFi with Zigbee smart devices communicating via radio transceivers with microchips operating on the IEEE 802.15. 4 protocol, at over 2.4GHz. Zigbee is less powerful than WiFi and has a shorter range of typically 10-20m indoors, with a lower data transfer speed of 250kbps.

LoRaWAN was developed by the LoRa Alliance and is a low-power, wide area networking open protocol that enables IoT LoRa enabled devices to connect to the internet and manages communication between end-node devices and network gateways.

M2M stands for ‘Machine-to-Machine’ communications and refers to a automated direct communication and measurement between mechanical and electronics devices using a communications channel (wired or wireless) and a communications protocol (cellular, WiFi, LAN/WLAN, Zigbee etc). M2M can be used for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, industrial instrumentation. environmental monitoring sensors and remote control/reboot products.

LoRa is a type of radio signal that carries data collected for example from environmental monitoring devices, to connected application(s) using the LoRaWAN network protocol.

MODBUS RTU is a non-proprietary serial communications protocol widely used in the process control industry. The hardware over which MODBUS RTU communications are performed is not defined by the protocol. MODBUS RTU is supported on RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, Ethernet and other communications network standards.

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