NMS Architecture: FCAPS or ITIL?

Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

I was recently asked if the network management architecture that I described in a series of posts follows an FCAPS model or an ITIL model. (See “A Network Management Architecture, Part N”: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)


FCAPS stands for Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, and Security. It has historically been the model that network management systems have used to identify what parts of network management they perform. However, as an implementation guide, it is lacking.

ITIL is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It describes methodologies for managing an IT system.

My architecture is functionally oriented and doesn’t really match either of the two models very well, though it seems to fit the ITIL model better. I structured the architecture as shown in the picture because each bubble matches the functionality provided by a single product. The FCAPS model, while conceptually clean, doesn’t match how products are used in the real world. What it does match are the outputs you’d like to see. For example, a security alert should be generated from any of several sources, such as an insecure configuration, an event that indicates a violation, network traffic flows (DoS attack), or an insecure topology. I can’t buy one tool that does all of this in one product. Even the big framework providers have to deliver multiple tools to provide the full breadth of security monitoring that is generally desired.

In the ITIL world, the focus is on operations and processes, which more closely matches the functions in the NMS architecture diagram. In practice, it is much easier to develop the specifications for a product to handle events or to do network performance monitoring or to do configuration management.

In the end, I find it easier to work with the NMS architecture shown above because tools in each category can be purchased (or often already exist in a network) and more easily integrate with each other.


Leave a Reply


Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.