Automatic Search for Correlated Alarms


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1 Automatic Search for Correlated Alarms KlausDieter Tuchs, Peter Tondl, Markus Radimirsch, Klaus Jobmann Institut für Allgemeine Nachrichtentechnik, Universität Hannover Aelstraße 9a, 0167 Hanover, Germany Tel.: , ax: Abstract: The main toic of this aer is fault management, esecially the search for correlated alarms in large alarm records stored in databases. We have chosen a GSM/DCS mobile telehone network as a basis for the investigations of data mining algorithms which are used to detect correlated alarm atterns. Secial attention has been aid to the access network. The main roblems addressed are the evaluation of alarm bursts, the task of alarm correlation and the develoment of tools to evaluate those bursts. These correlation tools need information for the correlation of alarms which today are only known to articularly educated and exerienced system exerts. These exerts are exensive and the task itself is also extremely exensive and timeconsuming. Moreover, they are not able to find all correlations that would aear in a large network. The fallibility of human oerators was the motivation to develo a data mining tool that is able to find correlated alarms with the aim to minimise the costs of the alarm evaluation rocess. 1 Environment of the research work Modern communication networks consist of a huge number of network elements that are interconnected with each other. It is their cooeration that enables the rovision of network services to subscribers. Oeration of a communication network requires that alarm messages can be dislayed and evaluated. These messages are generated by single network elements but are, gathered at a central oint, an indication of the current status of the network. The messages considered in this article are mostly error and alarm messages. They are used for the recovery from errors and to monitor the current erformance of the network. This is articularly imortant for early detection of congestion situations which can be caused by errors. Moreover they are the basis for manual corrections of the network structure and arameters by the oerator. A big variety of error situations exists where a single event causes a huge amount of error messages. Such error burst are e.g. generated when one or more radio links between network elements in a GSM network fail due to a thunderstorm. These failures usually cause a series of other network elements to dro out as well and each dro out results in at least another one, very often a number of error messages. Investigations have shown that the dro out of a single radio link may result in u to 00 subsequent error messages which all arrive almost simultaneously at a central network oeration and maintenance centre. The ideal solution in such situations with resect to a quick error recovery would be a system which is able to derive a single and unambiguous indication of the original error reason. Moreover, this system should be able to generate a detailed list of necessary actions to clear the failure. Recent develoments in fault management exhibit a trend to introduce systems which reduce the number of dislayed alarms. Such systems use error correlation techniques. Their task is to evaluate a huge amount of error messages that contain redundant information and semantic reetitions and, thus, comlement each other. The goal is to identify a otential original reason at the beginning of the error chain, taking stochastic roerties of the error roagation into account. This evaluation can be based uon neuronal networks [1], model based artificial intelligence systems [2], [] or simler rulebased methods. These methods lead to a broader decision basis for the oerator which increases the efficiency of the network in oeration. 2 Automatic search for alarm atterns The alarm correlation systems described in clause 1 have in common that they require background informations about the alarm messages they shall correlate. Today, these background informations about alarm atterns that are secific for certain error situations are obtained from the network by exerienced exerts by means of observation and evaluation of a number of identical error situations. After a certain time, these exerts have learned to filter the alarm messages such that they can detect the originating error, even if the number of dislayed errors is huge. This learning rocess is very time consuming and costly because it needs to be reeated frequently due to changes and extensions of the network toology and software udates. The consequence is that the error atterns change significantly which requires costly manual udates and maintenance of correlation systems.
2 It can easily be recognised that, for the given reasons, a simle correlation system is not sufficient but a system is required that is able to automatically udate the background information for the actual correlation. The task of such a system would be the automatic search for correlation atterns. This method is generally known as data mining and is the main subject of this aer. The data bases alied in today's communication networks enable the realisation of systems whose urose is to search for tyical atterns, e.g. in error data bases. This aer resents a data mining algorithm that is able to find alarm atterns out of huge amounts of data which can be traced back to a single error reason. The basics for data mining have been introduced in e.g. [5] where such algorithms are alied to roblems in big suermarkets or deartment stores. Prerequisites for the alication of data mining algorithms in network management The alarm messages generated in a communication network are usually stored in an alarm data base. Each alarm is reresented by redefined attributes, cf. [4]. alarmidentifier networkelement identifier alarmnumber eventtime other attributes... igure 1: ormat of an alarm database entry sequens of alarms: event time, alarm number, network element igure 1 shows the attributes of a stored alarm message that are relevant for the data mining algorithm. The number of entries in the above described fault management data base can reach enormous numbers, deending on the size and tye of the network under consideration. The goal of an automatic data mining algorithm is to detect eriodically aearing combinations of alarm messages within the alarm data base which are otentially caused by a single reason. These alarm combinations have to be assessed by the algorithm according to certain guidelines in order to decide whether a tyical and, thus, valid error attern has been detected. An error attern shall be denoted as valid if it contains only alarms that are caused by a single error source and are, therefore, indirect errors. Such an error source is e.g. the failure of a single radio link [7]. hierarchical alarm rocessing ilter1: Timefiler Start (Time) and End (Time) ilter 2 Toologyfilter, Networkelement, Alarmnumber attern detection frequencies candidates Interface mining algorithm Alarmdatabase Interface frequencies of alarm grous alarm korrelation rule detection igure 2: Structure of the Data Mining Tool Cluster: : : : : : : : : : The structure of the oeration and maintenance suort tool for correlated alarms is shown in figure 2. It is divided into three indeendent arts: 1. Prerocessing of the alarm events based on hierarchical network information 2. Pattern detection. Rule construction The uer art in igure 2 shows the filter functions that reduce the number of investigated alarms. The mining function is the subject of this aer. It is resonsible for the search of correlated alarms and is deicted in the lower art. A detailed descrition of its functions will follow in the following clauses..1 Hierarchical alarm rocessing or the reduction of alarms to be investigated, the filter function uses the toology of the network. The criterion is the search for grous of network elements that are hysically or logically connected with each other and are therefore able to generate error series. The first ste is the analysis of the network with resect to its hierarchical structure. or this urose, the algorithm needs to have access to the toology data base. The result of the analysis is a hierarchical toology model of the network. An examle for such a model is shown in igure. The left grah describes the model that is generated from the real network. This model reresents the GSM/DCS access network that is shown in the right grah.
3 MODE of HIERARCHY root object child object 1 child object 2 child object NETWORK EEMENTS C C igure GSM hierarchy model The hierarchical model resented is an abstraction which only considers deendencies directly related to the hierarchical structure of the real network. In figure, the hierarchical tree has two branches below the root. In this examle, an error occurring in one of these branches can never cause any error messages in the other branch, i.e. the branches are indeendent from each other. The attern search can, therefore, be erformed indeendently for each branch. In the remainder of this aer, the root was laced on Base Station () level, i.e. only the elements below the level were considered (see figure ). A refinement of the model is lanned in the future. However, it has turned out that good results can be achieved already with this simle model..2 Pattern detection The algorithm used was introduced in [8] and has been transformed and otimised by the authors for the usage in radio communication networks. or the urose of describing the algorithm, we define S as the set of alarm events to be investigated. The algorithm subject to this aer only considers the alarm tye and the event time of each alarm event, as shown in figure 1. The attern search algorithm needs to know all ossible alarm tyes, A k,where k {1,2,..., M} and M the maximum number of known alarm tyes. Then, S={a i }, i = 1, 2,..., N, with a i {A k :k {1, 2,..., M}}. We furthermore assume that an order function is defined for the alarm tyes such that, if i>k, then A i A k. We now define a grou as a set of alarms containing alarm tyes in ascending order with resect to their alarm identifier. The ordering ensures that each combination of alarm tyes occurs only once in the set of all ossible grous of length. Due to the order function of the alarm tyes, all grous with equal length can also be arranged in ascending order. A grou of length, then, is denoted by where reresents the osition in the sequence of all grous of length. Then, ={a 1, a 2,..., a }. Table 1 shows a selection of grous for = and M=5. Name of alarm grou A 1 A 1 A 5 A 1 A 1 A 5 Alarms in grou 8 A 1 A 2 A.. Table 1: Some grous for = and M=5 Due to the ascending order with resect to the alarm identifiers, all alarm grous with the same alarms in their first element, a 1, are following each other. E.g. if the first 1 alarms of the alarm grous j i and with length are identical, these alarms are a subset of all ossible for all with i j. This subset of alarm grous for all with i j is called a block. Potentially interesting alarm grous are called candidates. Candidates of length +1 can be found by building all ossible combinations of alarm airs within a block for all with i j. The set S is assed to the attern detection algorithm such that all events a i are arranged in ascending order with resect to their event time. We call S also a sequence of events. Hence, the event time defines a time axis onto which the alarm events are maed. The goal of the Data Mining algorithm is to analyse this time axis of events and to find frequently aearing grous of events that occur with a certain robability and that have identical or similar roerties. The detection of the alarm grous in the sequence is described in the following: requency search: The frequency search is based on a sliding window scheme. Note that the window is defined in time units, i.e. the numbers of alarms in the window at different times may vary. The duration of the window is defined as T M. The window is shifted in stes where a ste is equal to shifting the window by one alarm event. In the first ste, the search algorithm counts events that corresond to grous of length =1, i.e. each grou consists of a single event A k and the maximal ossible number of grous corresonds to M. or each existing alarm grou a counter counts the number of alarm events in the current window of duration T M. The window is shifted ste by ste until it reaches the end of S. Note that a single event can be counted several times, e.g. if the window contains more than one alarms when evaluating this event. After S has been evaluated, the resulting counters are regarded for each grou. If the counter value exceeds
4 a certain limit, these alarm tyes are ket for further investigation. If the counter value resides below this limit, the alarm tye is removed. In the second ste, the length of the grous is extended to =2. The grous, however, contain only those alarm tyes that have assed the revious round, i.e. they have not been removed. All ossible grous are build and arranged in ascending order with resect to their alarm identifier. Note that the set of grous is not anymore comlete with resect to the set of ossible alarm tyes due to the removal ste at the end of the first round. The resulting set of grous consists of the blocks with those A k that have survived the first round. ABA ABC ABD ACC ABAA ABAC ABAD ABCA ABCC ABCD ABDA ABDC ABDD The sliding window search is now alied to S a second time. or each allowed grou exists a counter which counts the occurrence of the grou in the window.agrouissaidtooccurifthetwoalarm tyes of this grou aear within the window. This aearance does not deend on order or osition of the alarm tyes. Note that a grou can be counted more than once, esecially if the window contains the grou in more than one ste. Again, the counters are evaluated. If a grou has occurred more often than a certain limit, it survives. Otherwise, it is removed. At the beginning of each ste, a surviving grou of length builds the basis for a new allowed block of grous with length (+1). The extension works as follows, see also examle in figure 4: Among the surviving grous of length in ste, those are selected that build a block of length (1). The alarm tyes a of these survivors are considered to be allowed extension for the next ste for all new blocks of length (+1) with the reviously considered block of length (1) as a basis. et {A, B, C, D} be the set of allowed alarm tyes in the examle in figure 4. At the end of the third round, the (ordered!) grous {ABA}, {ABC}, {ABD}, {ACC} have survived. We get the basic grous {AB} and {AC} of length 2 for further rocessing. The alarm tyes of block {AB} have the alarm tyes A, C and D as their last element. Each allowed grou of the block {AB} that has survived round three is now extended by these last elements of the survivors. This is exlained in figure 4. The grou {ACC} is extended in the same way. ACCC igure 4: Examle for building new allowed grous This mechanism is iterated until the algorithm reaches a termination criterion. In our investigations, this criterion means that no new frequent grous can be found.. Rule detection After finishing the attern search the results have to be examined. The algorithm detects grous of different length. Table 2 shows a result from an examle Base Station Subsystem (S). The sequence of alarms given to the algorithm had a length of 82 Days. The column '' shows the identifier of the examined Base Station. The next column describes the number of alarms which were generated from the and the subordinated network elements (see figure ). inally the last columns reresents the number of alarm grous found by the data mining algorithm. E. g. the area of the 56 had generated 190 frequent alarm events during the 82 days. Six different frequent grous of alarms with the length 5 were found. = Alarms Table 2: examble for grous of frequencies The rule detection has to find uncorrelated grous from alarms of different length. The difficulty here is that alarm atterns that do have e.g. a length of 4
5 have a high count in round 4 and, therefore, survive and go into round 5. Since there is no alarm attern with the length of =5 starting from this alarm attern, this branch of the tree dies after round 5. The rule search algorithm, however, needs to be able to sort out these alarm atterns as well. The rincial way to roceed is to evaluate the resulting tree in backward direction. The basic goal of this work is to find all indeendent single grous of different lengths which reresent a valid alarm attern with high robability. The develoment of the rule detection is for further study and has just started. 4 Summary and outlook The algorithm resented is able to detect alarm atterns on the basis of the toology model and resent it to an oerator for examination. The only task left to the oerator is to relate the alarm attern to a single error reason. Work is going on to otimise the arameters of the mining algorithm for the search of correlated alarms. One of the most imortant criteria is the decision whether a alarm grou a i survives or not. The criterion currently used is an absolute threshold for which, according to current investigations, it is hard to find sensible values. It will be investigated whether deendencies exist to the overall length of the alarm sequence, N, the window size T M and the way the alarms are distributed in the time window. It should be noted that the three functional blocks shown in figure 2 can be treated indeendently from each other. Hence, the work done for the data mining algorithm can be used seamlessly in the already resent functions for the rule detection and filtering with the hierarchical model. [5] V. Ganti, J. Gehrke, R. Ramakrishnan: "Mining very large Databases", IEEE Comuter Magazine August 1999,.944 [6] Hugo Navas: Design und Imlementierung eines DataMining Algorithus für das ault Management in Mobilfunknetzen ; Masterthesis, University of Hanover, Institute for Communications 1998 [7] M. Cech: Evaluation der Anwendungsmöglichkeiten von Data MiningAlgorithmen im Netzmanagement von Mobilfunknetzen, diloma thesis, University of Hanover, Institute for Communications, 1996 [8] Hannu Toivonen: "Discovery of requent Patterns in arge Data Collections"; University of Helsinki; ISBN References [1] H. Wietgrefe, K.D. Tuchs, K. Jobmann, et.al: Using Neural Networks for Alarm Correlation in Cellular Phone Systems, International Worksho on Alications of Neural Networks to Telecommunications 1997 (IWANNT 97), Melbourne, Australia June 1997 [2] P. röhlich, K. Jobmann, W. Nejdl: Model Based Alarm Correlation in Cellular Phone Networks, International Symosium on Modelling Analysis and Simulation of Comuters and Telecommunication Systems MASCOTS 97, Haifa, Israel, January 1997, [] P. röhlich: DRUMII: Efficient Modelbased Diagnosis of Technical Systems, dissertation on the University of Hanover 1998 [4] ETSI Technical Secification TS : Digital Cellular Telecommunication System: ault management of the Base Station Subsystem (GSM12.11); July 1998
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