2002 Annual

Thursday, 17 January 2002: 9:00 AM
NCF—An Inside Look
Richard D. Smedley, Jr., Northrop Grumman Information Technology, McLean, VA
Poster PDF (161.6 kB)
The AWIPS Network Control Facility (NCF) located at the Nation Weather Service (NWS) facility in Silver Spring, Maryland serves as the 911 emergency call center for AWIPS. In this capacity, the NCF engineers are constantly working on problems that range from a minor issue on a single component at a site to major outages that affect multiple sites. However, the NCF is more than just a help center, it also serves as the communications hub for the entire AWIPS network. Thus, the more than 150 AWIPS sites depend on the NCF systems to disseminate their critical forecasts and warnings. This paper provides a better understanding of how the NCF operates on a day-to-day basis to meet its two key functions: call center and communications hub.

The NCF operates similar to a typical call center in that it fields phone calls from sites seeking help to resolve problems. However, the NCF goes beyond this reactive mode of operations. Every NCF engineer uses a set of automated tools to monitor the health of all AWIPS systems. These tools enable them to recognize possible problems and correct them before the user is even aware of the problem. This paper will also describe the daily processes and tools used by the NCF engineers to resolve both reactively and proactively identified problems. The paper also details the standards of performance for the NCF as required by the NWS’ Service Level Agreement (SLA).

As the communications hub for AWIPS, any NCF outage can have catastrophic effect on every AWIPS site. This risk is avoided by implementing highly redundant systems and communications within the NCF. This paper will also present the current architecture employed to ensure the NCF systems are reliable and available. The tools used by the NCF to monitor the critical communications components are also discussed.

Supplementary URL: