What is FCAPS?
FCAPS (fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security) is a network management framework created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The primary objective of this network management model is to better understand the major functions of network management systems.
Introduced in the early 1980s, the goal was to move away from a reactive form of network management to a proactive approach -- for example, to empower administrators to take more control of their infrastructure to identify and rectify minor issues before they become major problems.
What does FCAPS stand for?
FCAPS is an acronym for the five working levels of network management: fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security. The FCAPS model is also known as the ISO network management model or the OSI network management model. Sometimes, it is also referred to as the OSI/ISO network management model.
Fault management level
Network faults happen. This makes it critical to find them early before they cause serious issues. In the FCAPS model of network management, organizations can find and correct network problems at the fault management level.
Today, the ability to detect, isolate, log and fix potential faults is a necessary component of every network. By reviewing historical fault data, network administrators can also identify patterns and trends to enhance proactive measures that help significantly improve network stability.
For example, you can also identify potential future issues and take steps to prevent them from occurring or recurring. With fault management, the network stays operational, while minimizing any potential downtime.
Configuration management level
Configuration management plays a crucial role within the network. For example, it helps network administrators track and manage deployments and related upkeep in a centralized manner.
Configuration management is a critical operational capability as it establishes the foundation for all other network management functions. To make this process user-friendly and as seamless as possible, organizations must:
- centralize the storage of configurations
- set the stage for future expansion
- streamline device configurations and provisioning
- seamlessly track changes
For example, at the configuration management level, network operation is monitored and controlled. Hardware and programming changes -- including the addition of new equipment and programs, modification of existing systems and removal of obsolete systems and programs -- are coordinated. Organizations can also keep an inventory of equipment and programs and update them regularly.
Accounting management level
The accounting management level or the allocation level is devoted to distributing resources optimally and fairly among network subscribers. This makes the most effective use of the systems available, minimizing the cost of operation. Sometimes called the administration level, the accounting level is also responsible for ensuring users are billed appropriately.
The function of accounting management in FCAPS is to help administrators configure users and groups based on permissions granted to them within the system. Access is also restricted to ensure only authorized users are allowed to make significant changes to critical network systems.
Performance management level
The performance management level helps better manage the overall performance of the network. Organizations can maximize the throughput, avoid network bottlenecks and identify potential problems. A major part of this process is to determine which improvements yield the most significant overall performance enhancement.
Performance management tools allow network administrators to monitor performance and troubleshoot issues in real time, while remaining accessible and easy to use. Performance data is also regularly used to identify patterns and trends to make predictions.
Security management level
Security management concentrates on limiting and controlling access to digital assets located within the network. This is because organizations must protect the network from hackers, unauthorized users, and physical or electronic sabotage at the security management level.
They can use encryption protocols, user authentication tools and endpoint protection to add more layers and better secure their network. Organizations can also add physical protection solutions to better secure networking equipment.
This approach helps maintain the confidentiality of user information where necessary or warranted. Security systems also allow network administrators to control what each individual authorized user can (and cannot) do within the system.
What does the future hold for FCAPS?
Although FCAPS is complex and far-ranging, many of its principles are now outdated. It should be updated to reflect the new reality of how we manage modern network infrastructure.
The FCAPS security management model was conceived in a pre-cloud computing era where ownership, responsibility and control were unambiguous and straightforward. At the time, it was easy to assume that certain entities owned and controlled assets both implicitly. We cannot do that anymore.
When applications live in the cloud, fault detection is more challenging because we work with virtualized servers. For example, different tenants could experience a fault originating from the same source, like an overloaded link or an overloaded server. Constant device additions and upgrades also contribute to configuration errors and, eventually, faults.
As a result, organizations must secure data, applications and services that run on the cloud to ensure regulatory compliance. However, this responsibility is also shared, to a certain extent, by the cloud service providers who own and control the equipment.
As such, we must reimagine the role of FCAPS in the cloud and on premises. For example, we need to define how FCAPS helps improve reliability, availability, provisioning, orchestration, cost optimization and data protection in virtualized environments.