How To Choose a NTP Server

Choosing a NTP server for your organisation can be bewildering. The list of features and options can seem overwhelming. However, by reviewing your organisations requirements, the choice can be made quite simple.
Most appliances can be divided into basic groups: NTP or SNTP, enclosure type, single or multi-port LAN, accuracy and throughput, reference clock type, backup reference clock and monitoring.
Most NTP servers provide full NTP capability, which is also compatible with SNTP. However, a few appliances are much simpler devices that only utilise the SNTP protocol.
Generally, NTP servers are housed in a 19-inch rack-mountable enclosure – usually, 1U high. Alternative options include, desktop and DIN-rail mounting devices.
Does your organisation need to sync a single or multiple independent LAN’s? If synchronisation of multiple isolated networks is required, choose a device with multiple Ethernet ports.
Accuracy and throughput is generally a function of processing power. The greater the processing power of the NTP server, the more accurate it is, and the more clients it can service. However, even the lowest spec device can usually support thousands of time clients.
LF radio, CDMA and GPS reference clocks are available to synchronize a stratum 1 NTP server. GPS is by far the best and most popular option. GPS is available worldwide and is more reliable and accurate than other time references.
Some low-cost NTP servers do not provide backup clocks, so they so unsynchronized when their main reference clocks is lost. TCXO, OCXO and Rubidium backup clocks maintain accurate time during temporary signal loss.
SNMP alarms are generally used to monitor the functionality of a NTP server. However, remote syslogging and web-browsers can also be used.



About the Author.
Andy Shinton has spent his entire career within the IT industry, mainly in the Time and Frequency sector. Since 2002, he has headed TimeTools Research and Development Division. Andy regularly writes white-papers and articles about NTP and Network Timing Solutions.


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