Every OT-BASE installation starts with one Asset Discovery node, but if you like the software, you may end up with dozens, if not hundreds. After all, this is what the product was designed for. When running multiple Asset Discovery nodes, care must be taken to properly configure metadata. Metadata is "data about data". In our case it is:
- the name of the individual Asset Discovery node, which you can chose freely
- useful names for the networks that you probe and export
- the location of the Asset Discovery node
- the location of the networks that are probed by this node
- the location of individual devices attached to these networks.
The first item is rather simple: As soon as you are running multiple Asset Discovery nodes, you need some way to distinguish between them in Asset Center. This is where the node name comes in that is set in the General Configuration items. Ideally you will use some kind of pattern that allows you to identify the node in question. For example, the name "P5-AD3" could be used to identify the third asset discovery node in plant number 5. The exact nomenclature is up to you, but it should be useful.
DO NOT USE A GENERIC NAME SUCH AS "ASSET DISCOVERY" WHICH IS BOUND TO BE DUPLICATED.
The node name will also be used as the root for automatically generated device identifiers in Asset Center. For example, the first PLC discovered by node "P5-AD3" will be identified as "P5-AD3.PLC1". As another example, in the following device profile we can infer that the VFD we are looking at was discovered by Asset Discovery node "abc".
You can always change device identifiers in Asset Center, but keep in mind that you first need to find the device for which the change shall be made!
In order to set a node name, select the node object in the object table. In the details pane, select "General" in the drop-down menu and input the desired name in the "Name" field. Save your setting by clicking the "Set" button at the bottom of the pane.
For every network that is probed by Asset Discovery, you can and should define a name. This name allows you and others to figure out the identity and purpose of a network in Asset Center.
Look at the following network list in OT-BASE Asset Center. The first six networks have names that allow yourself and your coworkers to grasp which network we're talking about. Not so for the rest of the networks in the list. As you can also see, the network address is always displayed in OT-BASE Asset Center, so you don't lose this information when you assign a network name.
OT-BASE Asset Discovery uses location IDs, as opposed to location names (which are only used in Asset Center).
A location identifier is a symbolic reference to a specific location in the organization's universe, no matter if site, building, room, or cabinet. Location identifiers don't need to follow a specific logic or system. If the organization already has a nomenclature in place for location identifiers, it can and should be used; on the other hand, random numbers and characters would work as well as long as they are unique.
Location names, on the other hand, feature a hierarchical structure, with the structural elements clearly separated. For example, a location name could be "Wisconsin / Milwaukee Plant X / Building C". A location ID for this location could be "WI-MX-BC", or it could as well be "9983UVT4S". The point is that you may need location IDs for locations at various levels in the hierarchy; some for buildings, some for cabinets, some for countries. You also want some consistency across Asset Discovery nodes, even when such nodes may reside in different sites and even in different countries. It is therefore highly recommended to develop a basic nomenclature if you don't have one already.
GET YOUR LOCATION IDS STRAIGHT BEFORE EXPORTING DATA TO ASSET CENTER. DISCUSS THE LOCATION ID SYSTEM WITH CO-WORKERS, PARTICULARLY FROM OTHER SITES.
There are simple but common mistakes that people make when introducing location ID nomenclatures. An example is that sometimes, a location ID uses underscores (as in "ABC_-XYZ5") whereas other users refer to the same location by using spaces (as in "ABC XYZ5"). Errors like this lead to unnecessary extra work when consolidating asset data in OT-BASE Asset Center.
Node location ID
A location ID for the Asset Discovery node can be set by selecting the node in the object table. In the details pane, select "General" and input a location ID. Save the location ID by clicking "Set".
The node location ID will not only be used for telling Asset Center where the node is located, but will also be inherited to networks and devices until you specify otherwise (see below).
Network location ID
Asset Discovery can discover remote networks via routing, therefore the discovered networks don't necessarily have to be in the same location as the Asset Discovery node.
ANOTHER, COMMON SITUATION WHERE YOU MUST ASSIGN NETWORK LOCATION IDS IS WHEN TWO OR MORE NETWORKS IN ONE AREA (AS IDENTIFIED BY THE NODE LOCATION ID) USE THE SAME NETWORK ADDRESS.
Duplicate network addresses are commonplace in OT environments. The only chance that OT-BASE has to distinguish different networks using the same IP address is by location ID. Let's assume that in building B, you have two machines with internal networks using the same IP address. The Asset Discovery node location ID is set to "+B" for "building B". In order to distinguish both networks, we assign the location ID "+BM1" to network one (in machine 1) and "+BM2" to network two (in machine 2). Problem solved.
In order to set a location ID for a network, select the network in the object table. In the details pane, input the desired location ID and save the changes by clicking "Set" at the bottom of the pane.
Device location ID
Individual devices may have their distinct location ID in order to deal with two situations:
- You want to specify the exact cabinet, line station ID etc. for a device, which may not be identical to the location of the network. For example, the network may be located throughout a building, but you really want to pinpoint a device's location in a specific cabinet, maybe even in a specific rack.
- A device is homed in multiple networks which have different network location IDs.
FOR MULTI-HOMED DEVICES THAT ARE ATTACHED TO NETWORKS WITH DIFFERENT LOCATION IDS, YOU MUST ASSIGN A DEVICE LOCATION ID, OR OTHERWISE THE DEVICE WILL APPEAR TO CONSTANTLY "MOVE" BETWEEN LOCATIONS.
Location IDs for individual devices can be set in the "Device Details" pane that opens when you select a specific device in the objects table. Don't forget to save your setting by clicking on "Set".
Setting device location IDs for multiple devices
When you want to be very precise in assigning location IDs to devices, for example in order to pinpoint their exact location in a particular cabinet, you may find the process described above a bit laborsome. Fortunately, there's a hack that you can use. For setting one and the same location ID to multiple devices in the same network, you can select more than one device with shift-left click or ctrl-left click. Then open the context menu with right click and select "location ID".
By now you may be afraid that properly setting location IDs will result in a lot of labor. Relax, in many cases you will only need to set the node location ID because of location inheritance. It works like this:
- If you don't specify device location IDs, they are inherited from the network location to which the device belongs to.
- If you don't specify network location IDs, they are inherited from the location of the Asset Discovery node.
Consequently, if you haven't specified device locations and network locations, device location IDs will also be inherited from the node location ID.
Just keep in mind the following situations where location inheritance will result in problems and you need to be more specific with your location IDs:
- You are probing remote networks that are physically located at a completely different place than the location of the Asset Discovery node.
- You are probing networks with duplicate IP addresses.
- You are probing multi-homed devices that are hosted in networks with different location IDs.
- You want to be precise in respect to your devices' location, such as in a particular cabinet.