The Comporium group of companies has provided communications services to customers in York and Lancaster counties for more than 100 years. The Comporium Group makes it easier for more than 95,000 residential and commercial customers to access a broad range of communication services, including local telephone, long distance, wireless, cable TV, Internet, security, data services, and directory publishing.
In addition to using IAM masters to monitor its own network, Comporium Communications also monitors another telco's alarms.
A Hardware Failure Threatened Mission-Critical Monitoring The IAM is an industrial-grade master with high reliability, but any equipment can still fail. When Tom Wells and his team at Comporium recently experienced a hardware failure, they contacted DPS Tech Support.
"We contacted DPS Support and they checked a couple of things with us. Then they tried to dial-in," said Tom Wells, NOC Supervisor for Comporium. If an IAM experiences trouble, DPS techs can remotely connect to perform fixes. When a remote connection could not be established with Comporium's IAM, DPS Support determined that a hardware failure had occurred and sprung into immediate action.
An Advance Replacement Was Sent Across the Country in Less Than 24 Hours To protect its monitoring, Comporium wisely invested in a Gold Plan when it purchased its IAMs. "We have a maintenance agreement with DPS, and they said they would send us a replacement," said Wells.
To make the transition to a replacement IAM as seamless as possible, DPS preinstalls existing client databases onto new hardware. "I emailed our database to DPS, and they installed it on another unit," Wells said. "That's something that's really good to be able to do. It didn't take a lot of time. We take database backups often, so we were able to send a current copy to DPS. That worked great."
After receiving Comporium's alarm database and installing it on a replacement IAM, DPS overnighted the replacement to Wells and his team. Senior DPS Support Engineer Chris Hower remembers that responding to Comporium was a top priority. "We knew we had to act fast," Hower said. "They need visibility both for their own network and for the other network they monitor. When you consider the total number of customers on those networks, that's literally thousands of people depending on us, so we got their database loaded up on a replacement IAM and got it out the door that afternoon."
Comporium received its replacement master less than 24 hours after calling for tech support. "We got the new unit the next day," said Wells. "We had already removed the old IAM, and when we powered up the new unit, it came right up."
Tech Support That Delivers When the Situation is Urgent When calling DPS, clients are always greeted by a real person. This means that, when a client calls in with an urgent situation, the Tech Support team can launch into immediate action. "Every time that I've contacted DPS Tech Support, I've gotten really good results," said Wells. "The people I've talked to have been knowledgeable and willing to work with us. At times when we've had a pressing issue, DPS provided immediate help. The tech support I have dealt with over the years at DPS has impressed me."
The IAM is a versatile, embedded mediation platform capable of mediating any mixture of industry standard protocols.
The IAM's flexible, available transports include RS232, RS422 or RS485, 202/212 modems, X.25 and, of course, TCP/IP. It can function as a proxy SNMP agent, placing alarms on a LAN from devices that cannot be economically connected to a LAN by other means.
As LANs and WANs evolve, it makes sense to use that bandwidth. It saves the cost of dedicated circuits and generally has redundancy already built in. In addition, most high-level management systems now require alarms to be reported over TCP/IP.
Typically, the IAM is used to provide local alarm visibility and can mediate (convert) alarms to TL1 or SNMP to report an existing higher-level manager.
The IAM is a rack-mountable, industrial computer that operates on -48VDC. It simultaneously mediates many different alarm protocols including TBOS, DCP, DCPF, DCM, Datalok, TelTrac, E2A, TABS, Badger, and TL1. It expands to 24 serial ports and a 10BaseT Ethernet port for alarm traffic, plus a separate RS232 port and a modem port for configuration.
Alarm history is an important feature, according to Storm. The IAM will record and store one-million alarm events. The history files can be queried in many different ways, including the history of a specific alarm point, or perhaps all alarms of a specific type, or even alarms generated during a specified period.
Summary reports can be generated. For instance, you can generate a report for a specific alarm point for a certain time period stating the number of times it failed, the total time it was in the failed condition and the longest period it spent in the failed condition.
Reports can be exported to any spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel to create graphs.
In addition to alarm mediation, the IAM has extensive notification capabilities. The page feature supports alpha or numeric paging and an e-mail notification. Both features can be configured in many different ways and allow for scheduling and escalation, should a page not be answered within a specified amount of time.
"Perhaps the best thing about the IAM is that we can provide a tailor-made solution that meets the exact needs of the customer," said Storm. DPS is well known for providing a functional total solution in a short period of time. We provide extensive back-up support, and turn-up assistance.
"Best of all is that it is easy to use," said Storm. "It's intuitive, with no extensive training required. Most people learn the basic screens within the first hour."
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