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How to Implement Proactive Remote Monitoring Systems on a Tight Budget

By Andrew Erickson

April 19, 2024

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Setting up a proactive remote monitoring system is a smart move for any organization. It enhances operational efficiency and prevents potential system failures before they happen.

However, understanding how to do this cost-effectively can be a challenge. That's especially true if this is your first project.

Let me walk you through the essentials of implementing a budget-friendly and proactive remote monitoring system.

Together, we'll look at:

  • Cost-effective RTUs
  • Leveraging existing infrastructure
  • Smart shopping tactics

Understanding Proactive Remote Monitoring

Proactive remote monitoring involves continuously analyzing the performance and health of your network's physical and virtual components. The system is capable of foreseeing problems before they disrupt business operations. It will notify you of any possible problems before they happen to prevent network or equipment failure.

This approach saves money in the long run by preventing costly downtime and repairs. It also significantly improves system reliability and service continuity.

The return on investment (ROI) from proactive monitoring can be staggering. It reduces the chance of expensive incidents and routinely shrinks maintenance expense.

The cost associated with reactive work far exceed the initial setup cost of a proactive monitoring system. Reactive work eliminated by proactive monitoring systems include:

  • Downtime
  • Emergency repairs
  • Loss of customer trust

Step 1: Evaluating Your Needs

The first step in setting up a cost-effective monitoring program is to assess your current infrastructure. Determine what critical assets need monitoring and what kind of data will be most valuable to collect.

Important data driven information to collect includes:

  • System performance
  • Security breaches
  • Hardware malfunctions

This evaluation will help you understand the scale of the monitoring system required and prioritize your spending.

LAN diagram showing an RTU monitoring mission-critical network gear
LAN diagram showing an RTU monitoring mission-critical network gear

Step 2: Selecting the Right Tools

Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) are your first step in creating a functional proactive remote monitoring system. An RTU is a device that monitors and reports events and information taking place at remote locations. Remote locations refer to any location that is not at your organization's central office. Usually, no one is present there the majority of the time.

RTUs allow you to always know what is happening at these remote locations. More importantly, they prevent any potential issues before they occur.

Choosing the right RTU is crucial for building a cost-effective monitoring system. If you are on a tight budget, consider starting with more affordable units. Affordable units include TempDefender, the NetGuardian 216 and NetGuardian 420.

These devices offer essential monitoring capabilities without a hefty price tag. The prices for these products typically range from around $1000 to​ $3000. The prices vary based on your needs and the equipment's capabilities.

The NetGuardian 216 is an excellent start. It's a compact, yet powerful RTU. It provides detailed visibility of your network elements with options to expand as needs grow. It also lacks a hefty price tag.

For slightly larger capacity needs, consider the NetGuardian 420. The device offers a middle-ground solution with enhanced capabilities at a reasonable cost. It includes features like a built-in terminal server, which can save money on additional equipment and management costs.

Step 3: Leveraging Existing Infrastructure

Maximize your current investments by integrating new monitoring tools with your existing network infrastructure. Many modern RTUs come with built-in web interfaces (TLS 1.2) and support for multiple protocols.

This allows them to integrate seamlessly into existing networks. These networks use standard protocols like SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) which communicate with other devices​​​​. This integration allows you to add monitoring capabilities without overhauling your current system. This integration is also beneficial as it allows you to:

  • Minimize setup costs: By using an open-standard protocol, you can use any SNMP manager you like. It's probable that you already have one within your company.
  • Simplify management: With all devices communicating over a common protocol, network management becomes more streamlined, allowing for centralized updates and troubleshooting.
  • Expand coverage seamlessly: SNMP's universal support across network devices means you can extend monitoring to virtually any part of your network. You can do this without additional compatibility hardware.
  • Enhance security measures: Advanced RTUs come equipped with the latest security (ex. encrypted SNMPv3 in the case of SNMP), improving the overall security posture of your network monitoring system.

Step 4: Installation and Configuration

Installing and configuring your monitoring system can be straightforward. Most modern RTUs come with web interfaces that simplify setup and configuration. This will allow you to manage the system remotely without needing extensive technical knowledge.

For instance, the NetGuardian 832A supports daisy-chained sensors for monitoring various environmental factors. The device can be easily configured through its built-in web interface​​.

Step 5: Negotiating the Best Prices

To find the best deals on RTUs and monitoring equipment:

  • Compare Suppliers: Don't settle on the first price you see. Compare different vendors and look for discounts or bulk deals when possible. Don't forget, however, that quality delivers more ROI than pinching pennies on a purchase like this.
  • Focus on the Value: Price is important, but what you're really shopping for is "total savings per dollar spent". You want your monitoring system to be ultra-reliable and long-lasting to prevent as must future expense as possible. If your manufacturer can adjust the system to minimize your install labor, that's often more important than a reduced purchase price. Bundled services like free training and free tech support fall into the same category.
  • Discuss Bulk Purchases: Many manufacturers like DPS Telecom offer discounts on bulk purchases. If you believe you will need to expand your monitoring system, try to negotiate a bulk deal ahead of time. This way, you can save money on each unit. To continue our example, DPS generally allows you to issue a single large PO and take delivery on a custom schedule for up to 12 months. This spreads shipments and invoicing across a longer period of time.
  • Risk-Free Purchases: DPS Telecom also provides risk-free purchasing options. They allow you to return the equipment if it doesn't meet your expectations. This is emphasized by their 30-day money-back guarantee​​.

Making Plans a Reality

Implementing a proactive remote monitoring system doesn't have to be an expensive or scary thing. A cost-effective set up is within reach for organizations of any size. With an effective strategy and the right partner, you will be successful.

DPS Telecom's range of products and purchasing options make them a strong possibility worth considering. You can ensure that you continuously monitor and protect your network against potential failures - without overstretching your budget!

To get in touch with the experts at DPS Telecom, call 1-800-622-3314 or email sales@dpstele.com

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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...