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With T/Mon Jackson and Mullen are no longer worried. But the real virtue of the solution is that it provides a smooth migration path for replacing their legacy remotes. Dominion plans to gradually replace their existing remotes with new NetGuardian units from DPS Telecom.
"If we didn't have this solution, we'd have to look at a wholesale change-out of the Larse 1200s," said Mullen. "We would have to start a process to get all those remotes replaced with something that could be supported in the future. And then you're looking at the price of the remote plus you've got to send a man out there to spend a day to install it for each site."
"You'd have to do them all within a very short period of time," said Jackson. "Now we can spread it out over 18 to 24 months to do it. And because we don't have all these other masters now, we're looking at just one cutover, instead of doing it three different times for all the different remotes."
Dominion's new system has already added substantially to their network visibility. "Now that we have IP-based remotes [the NetGuardians], we're going to start picking up a lot of the offices we have in Texas and Utah, New Orleans, and Oklahoma and that area. We don't own the telecommunications facilities that go there, while in all the other states we have our own communications network with microwave or fiber."
Jackson is also looking at adding new network monitoring capabilities. "We may add derived alarms in a lot of places that have generators, multiple chargers, stuff like that. For example, we run a generator test every Tuesday, and with derived alarms we make sure it happens. We can create an if alarm if the test doesn't occur within a certain time window on Tuesday," said Jackson.
"And where we have multiple chargers at a site, we can set it up so that if only one charger is down it's a minor alarm, but if you lose two it gets major, you lose three, then it's critical, and if you lose the fourth one it's beyond critical," Jackson added. "Another thing, we can use the serial ports on the NetGuardians to look at other pieces of equipment. We haven't figured out how we're going to use that advantage, but it's nice that it's there. We may come up with some unique applications for that."