How can small telephone companies economically monitor their remote sites 24-7? To solve this problem, Vision Net of Montana has created a regional NOC that provides after-hours and weekend monitoring to the state's rural telephone cooperatives.
To build Vision Net's NOC, network engineer Gary Evans needed a monitoring system that could integrate alarms from a wide variety of equipment, while maintaining detailed visibility of each alarm. Evans is tackling this challenge with the T/Mon Remote Alarm Monitoring System and DPS Telecom's custom engineering services.
The result has been cost-effective 24-hour monitoring for Vision Net's clients and an opportunity for Vision Net to offer value-added network monitoring services.
A joint venture of five independent Montana telecoms, Vision Net provides advanced network services throughout the state. Vision Net's owner companies and other small telecoms faced a common problem - they needed 24-7 monitoring, but running a 24-hour NOC was cost-prohibitive.
Vision Net's member companies used to deal with this dilemma by outsourcing their alarm monitoring. Evans said there were several problems with outsourced monitoring:
Evans and co-worker Bill Welch found a way out of these monitoring dilemmas ... they brought network monitoring in-house with the T/Mon Remote Alarm Monitoring System, which gave better visibility and control over the network.
Because of his experience with T/Mon's capabilities, Evans felt comfortable recommending T/Mon to telephone cooperatives throughout Montana. "I feel pretty safe pushing DPS products. I can show these other companies it's a good product for monitoring," said Evans.
In time, several Vision Net companies added their own T/Mon systems, which enabled Vision Net to offer after-hours remote monitoring services. "We monitor the client companies' networks with their own T/Mon systems," said Evans. "Using T/Mon's remote access capabilities, we can connect over Vision Net's statewide data network and log on to their master units."
In their current role, Vision Net's NOC has to monitor widely different types of equipment from several different companies, and they have to provide detailed, relevant alarm data so dispatchers can make informed decisions about after-hours dispatches.
T/Mon has provided the tools for meeting these challenges:
In the future, Evans foresees an increased demand for Vision Net's remote monitoring services. To expand Vision Net's NOC monitoring capacity, Evans is working with DPS Telecom to develop new software that would enable T/Mon to collect alarms from other T/Mon systems.
"In our NOC we have several monitors, and each one is remotely connected to a different company's T/Mon," said Evans. "As we grow, we could easily end up with 10 companies to monitor. Then we would have a whole wall of TVs and people to physically look at the monitors."
"We want to consolidate all the networks from our client companies onto one T/Mon alarm summary screen. We can have just one alarm window per company, and then when we start drilling through that window, the client's whole network will open up. It will be a very nice, clean package for us to monitor," said Evans.
When the new T/Mon software is completed, Evans added, Vision Net will be able to offer some value-added services to its remote monitoring package:
"I feel confident going into the future with DPS," said Evans. "With DPS we can work out a solution for just about anything out there. If DPS doesn't already have a solution, they're very good at providing a custom solution."
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