In this paper we present an architecture for network and applications management, which is based on the Active Networks paradigm and shows the advantages of network programmability. The stimulus to develop this architecture arises from an actual need to manage a cluster of active nodes, where it is often required to redeploy network assets and modify nodes connectivity. In our architecture, a remote front-end of the managing entity allows the operator to design new network topologies, to check the status of the nodes and to configure them. Moreover, the proposed framework allows to explore an active network, to monitor the active applications, to query each node and to install programmable traps. In order to take advantage of the Active Networks technology, we introduce active SNMP-like MIBs and agents, which are dynamic and programmable. The programmable management agents make tracing distributed applications a feasible task. We propose a general framework that can inter-operate with any active execution environment. In this framework, both the manager and the monitor front-ends communicate with an active node (the Active Network Access Point) through the XML language. A gateway service performs the translation of the queries from XML to an active packet language and injects the code in the network. We demonstrate the implementation of an active network gateway for PLAN (Packet Language for Active Networks) in a forty active nodes testbed. Finally, we discuss an application of the active management architecture to detect the causes of network failures by tracing network events in time
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