eXplorer Data Collection Agent (DCA) for Windows

An essential element of MPS Monitor is the eXplorer Data Collection Agent (DCA) for Windows.

This component must be installed on a PC or server in the LAN of the customer and performs reading operations according to the guidelines provided by the server component on the MPS Monitor Portal.

Information are transmitted to the Server components using only the HTTPS protocol.

The eXplorer DCA uses, for reading, the SNMP protocol. It is an essential requirement for the performance of the service that the eXplorer DCA has Internet access via HTTPS to the Server components.

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Technical details of eXplorer Data Collection Agent (DCA) for Windows

Printer data collection is performed using the software eXplorer DCA, which has the following technical details and functionality:

1. It’s installed on a server / PC into the Customer’s network, which has access to Internet (port 443 / HTTPS) and can reach via network printers using SNMP protocol (port 161 / UDP)

2. Connects regularly (generally with a ping every 5 minutes) to the URL https://*.mpsmonitor.com to exchange data and receive information about activities to perform

3. Based on the information made available by the Server, the software eXplorer DCA performs, during fixed and configurable timetables (generally three or more times a day), a scan via UDP subnets or IP address where printers can be present; timetables and subnets or IP addresses to be scanned are defined in a separate management function in the configuration pages of MPS Monitor Portal

4. Identifies all devices as Printer- type, while omits completely all other network devices of any other nature

5. Data collection generally lasts a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on the complexity of the network and number of devices

6. Generates no noticeable impact on network and devices, as the traffic generated is minimal, thanks to UDP use

7. The data collected from printers are stored in text files as CSV and XML formats, which are stored encoded in the folder Agentsend of eXplorer 3 installation; in this way the Customer can have access to the files and verify what information are detected at each reading

8. In special cases where occur problems in reading the data of a printer model, the system generates additional files with information on entire printer MIB, using the SNMPWalk command; these files that have extension .WLK, allow us to identify and solve problems during the data reading. This function can be disabled during the eXplorer configuration, trough the MPS Monitor Portal

9. CSV and WLK files are transferred to the MPS Monitor in Cloud via HTTPS. All communications between eXplorer DCA and the MPS Monitor Portal occur only on HTTPS protocol.

10. The data into the files are used to update the database that manages the customer’s printers.

 

No access can be made, in any case, from outside towards the internal network of the Customer. Consequently, the eXplorer DCA installation within the customer network does not involve any risk to the safety of the network.

 

Hardware Requirements

The minimum hardware requirements for the PC / Server hosting the eXplorer DCA are followings:

RAM: 1GB 
CPU: Pentium 4 
HD space: 50 MB

Recommended hardware requirements are:

RAM: 2 GB 
CPU: Dual core 
HD space: 100 MB

The PC / Server does not need to be dedicated, and can be used simultaneously for other uses. eXplorer DCA runs completely in the background and the users of the PC / Server are not affected for other applications in any way.

The PC / Server must have a constant access to Internet via HTTPS and via UDP to reach printers to handle.

NOTE:

· for installations in networks of small and medium size (from one to a tens of printers), the configuration with hw suggested requirements is largely sufficient to scan in a few seconds or at most a few minutes (depending on how many devices are present)

· if you have many printers to scan (hundreds or thousands) and require reduced scan times, the rule is: more hardware power -> better performance.

eXplorer DCA has a scan speed proportional to hardware made available and depending on how much you will use it; indeed, on very large networks and hardware with high power, you can execute a configuration with high parallelism, which reduces drastically the time of data collection.

 

Software Requirements

eXplorer DCA is certified on any Windows operating system from 2003 / XP and up.If you wish to install on a non-Windows operating systems such as MAC, Win 10 IoT, or Embedded on a Multifunction device, please go to this page.

On the Windows system must be present Microsoft .Net Framework 4.0 Full. The .Net Framework 4.0 Full installation can be done before the eXplorer 3 installation or during the same, indifferently. The eXplorer DCA installation will not be completed without .Net Framework 4.0 Full.

At the end of the .Net Framework 4 full installation, the system may require a restart, or it could conclude the procedure also without the reboot; this aspect, which is not predictable a priori, depends on the version of Windows, on operating environment, and on the update degree of the same, and is in no way related to the installation of eXplorer DCA; on a system where the .Net Framework 4.0 Full is already present, the eXplorer DCA installation never requires any restart.

Therefore we recommend you to consider, especially if you work on a Windows Server platform not recently updated, and on which there are other services in production, that may be required by Windows a system restart at the end of the.Net Framework 4.0 Full installation.

The eXplorer DCA installation doesn’t require neither the installation, nor the configuration of any other particular software component (e.g. Database, Web server, etc.), as all the functions of data management and Web application are made by the Web Portal or the APIs.

Network security requirements

eXplorer DCA must be hosted on a system that has constant access via HTTPS (port 443 outbound), also if  only to URL https://*.mpsmonitor.com  and to https://*.abassetmanagement.com. It is not required, nor necessary, the access to other sites or Internet addresses, nor the enabling of other outgoing protocols.

It’s not necessary any inbound access, nor the activation of any communication protocol from outside towards the internal customer network.

Therefore is not required any specific configuration on Firewall, nor on security infrastructure of the Customer.

In case that the Internet access via HTTPS is managed through a Proxy Server:

  • If the Proxy does not require a specific authentication, eXplorer DCA does not require any configuration, as it is able to recognize and interface with the Proxy automatically
  • If the proxy requires authentication credentials, you must have a user Proxy that is enabled to reach the URLs above mentioned.

The specific Proxy user credentials are required during the eXplorer DCA installation.

The credentials (username and password) for the HTTPS access through Proxy are saved by eXplorer DCA, in encrypted form, exclusively on the Customer’s system; they are never transmitted to the MPS Monitor Cloud Server or to other sites outside of the Customer’s network, and are never visible to staff which have access to the Customer’s system.

 

Environmental requirements / local user

The installation procedure of eXplorer DCA installs on the hosting system a Windows system service (MpsMonitor.eXplorer.Service) that is configured with Automatic Activation, and by default uses the Local System User for the execution of all its activities.

If the network and the hosting system don’t have any particular restrictions toward the Local System user, it’s not necessary any change to the default configuration, nor requires any additional requirement.

However, if there are special restrictions or particular Policies that prevent the activation or the service execution by the user’s Local System, it will be necessary to have a specific local user. The eXplorer DCA installation procedure will assign to this user the minimum rights needed to perform the service.

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