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T/Mon Q&A: Evolving a Proven Alarm Master for 2021 and Beyond

By Andrew Erickson

October 8, 2021


There's no more important element in your remote monitoring system than your central alarm master station. It's the place where everything comes together. You might be collecting data from thousands of remote facilities. All of it needs to be parsed, interpreted, filtered, and displayed.

That's why it's so important to choose a good master station. This isn't the time to choose an open-source system commonly used by hobbyists. Your network is serious business. At some level, it likely also involves life-and-death outcomes.

That's a big reason why I recently had a detailed conversation with a large telco. They asked many important questions in an email, and my responses are good information for you if you're researching a master station. Whether you choose the DPS T/Mon or any other product, this is a good set of reference material as you evaluate your options.

Will a T/Mon upgrade break connectivity with our various RTUs?

Q: We have quite a legacy mix-and-match of RTU hardware from a variety of vendors. If they are currently working, will they continue to work after the upgrade? Our RTUs currently include Netguardians, Eagle-I, Hawk-I, RMS II, and Vertiv RMS 3, with the possibility of some APC Netbotz gear.

A: Yes, everything that works currently will continue to work. When needed, modern T/Mons run a virtualized version of the older T/Mon system within the new Linux portion. Alarm data is pulled upward into Linux for monitoring. At minimum, the equipment you are monitoring currently should continue to function in this way. Our roadmap in the next several years involves a graceful transition to 100% Linux, which will involve some database-upgrade tools to bring your older alarm database and devices forward into the new system. You could either execute that as part of a maintenance agreement or, without one, remain on the same version of software that will be and will remain functional from the moment of purchase.

Are we locked into using only DPS NetGuardian RTUs?

Q: Going forward can we continue to mix and match hardware, or would we need to only buy DPS products? Do you have a supported device list?

A: DPS expressly does not limit you to only DPS products. We largely built our T/Mon business on solving proprietary traps rather than creating new ones. In particular, our modern "Device Modules" (templates) make it easy to set up third-party devices. Here's a T/Mon Device Module list I created and update regularly as the list grows. The Device Modules are frequently updated, so this list is almost always actually bigger than it appears on the website. Still, this will give you a solid idea of where T/Mon is. Also, remember that we're always just one request away from developing something new. We also empower you to write your own custom T/Mon device modules if you'd like to do that.

How fast can I get delivery if I order today?

What is the turnaround time for equipment assembly and delivery to our address and how is payment handled?

A: DPS equipment manufacturing (exclusively in California, USA) for an off-the-shelf design is generally within 3 weeks. If we allow perhaps one week for normal shipment speed (assuming no large customs delays), delivery to any address worldwide could be within a month, sometimes less. Obviously, any accessory or device that's currently in inventory can ship as fast as the same day. You can purchase from DPS directly. If you see a logistics advantage to buying through a distributor, I don't mind reselling through virtually any company you prefer.

What's involved in transitioning to a new T/Mon model?

What is the average install and migration time until we are swapped over from an older T/Mon NOC system to T/Mon LNX? Can they be run side-by-side for a period?

A: Yes, you can run two T/Mon masters side-by-side for a period. The complexity of your alarm database and the amount of staff time you devote are factors in the average install and migration time. If you simply copy your legacy database and perform a basic Linux setup, you could be running within a single day. Allow some time for unexpected oddities with one or perhaps a few device types. That happens sometimes. If you want to seize the opportunity to upgrade some/all devices to the new Linux-based databasing (built to be much easier to maintain going forward), DPS Tech Support (staffed by our product engineers) can help you with that.

Do I have to buy a maintenance contract to get any support at all?

If a maintenance contract is not purchased since we cannot send off hardware for repair, can we still get software updates and over-the-phone support by paying per-incident?

A: Support is prioritized - but not gated - by maintenance agreements. You can still get support in either case without paying. You can also purchase T/Mon software upgrades a la carte at any time. You should consider the "bundle" effect of a maintenance agreement. Even if your interest is only in software upgrades, you might actually save budget compared with buying more than a single a la carte software update during the maintenance period.

Can I get training in my location?

Is training supplied in my country? What is the delivery method for this?

A: We don't currently have regularly scheduled in-person training anywhere but our headquarters in Fresno, California, USA. I'm happy to stream our live factory trainings (about six times per year) to you (giving you the ability to ask questions and interact). Time zones obviously have a large impact. I did this for a company in New Zealand in August last year. They were waking up at 3AM to attend. Alternatively, I can quote private-training options for you: (1) in-person training (in your office by US-based DPS staff, subject to active travel rules), or (2) video-meeting training during your local business hours by staff working early/late at our US offices.

What do you need from your alarm master?

This collection of questions & answers from a real client email conversation gives you some insight into how we manage T/Mon features, service, and pricing. Our "buy it once" purchasing model has become increasingly rare and valued in the modern world of "recurring revenue". It's fairly unusual now to have a software-based device that doesn't demand ongoing payments.

Remember, DPS is unusual in that we really want to make T/Mon and our RTUs the best possible fit for your network. Manufacturing at our headquarters in the USA certainly wasn't the cheapest decision we could make, but it does allow us to rapidly change our designs when we need to. When you consider the extreme important of your network reliability to the people you serve, you'll understand exactly why we do things this way.

We can also help you reduce wasteful expenses, which actually makes the "more expensive" option cheaper in a fairly short period of time.

Give me a call at 559-454-1600 or email me at sales@dpstele.com

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...