The Fundamentals of Network Alarm Monitoring System

Part 1: The Basics of Network Alarm Monitoring

You've just been put in charge of purchasing, selecting or recommending a new network alarm system for your company. Where do you start? How can you monitor alarms? What monitoring features are essential, and which can you live without?

The 3 Step Plan for Creating a Perfect Fit Alarm System

  1. Survey where you are now
  2. Define your monitoring goals
  3. Plan your alarm system upgrade

Start Here: Network and Remote Site Survey
Your first step to getting your alarm monitoring upgrade rolling is a complete survey of your current network and remote sites:

In your site survey, you're looking for three things:

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Part 2: What Do You Need to Monitor?

It takes a lot of equipment working together correctly to keep your network running, and you need accurate information about every element involved.

The things you need to monitor fall into four categories:

  1. Telecom and transport equipment: switches, routers, SONET equipment, fiber optic equipment, microwave radios, etc.
  2. Power supplies: commercial AC power, battery plants, rectifiers, backup generators, UPS systems, etc.
  3. Building and facility alarms: intrusion, entry, open door, fire, smoke, flooding, etc.
  4. Environmental conditions: temperature, humidity, etc.

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Part 3: How Do You Monitor It?

There are three phases to alarm monitoring: acquisition, transport and presentation. Let's look at each phase in order.

Acquisition: Getting Alarms Out of Your Equipment
There are three kinds of alarm inputs: contact closures, analog inputs and protocol inputs.

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Part 4: How Do You Monitor It? (continued..)

Acquiring Alarm Data from Telecom and Transport Equipment
There's no standard alarm output for switches, routers, SONET equipment and other telecom and transport gear. You'll have to check each type of transport equipment in your network to see what kind of alarms it supports.

Acquiring Power, Facility, and Environmental Alarms
Power, facility and environmental alarms are collected by groups of individual sensors connected to site equipment like battery plants, generators, doors, temperature sensors and so on.

Outputs from these sensors are in turn connected to a remote telemetry unit (RTU) that converts contact closure and analog inputs into a protocol output, which is forwarded to your alarm presentation master.

Transport: Getting Your Alarms from the Site to Your Screen
Once alarm data collected at your remote sites, it needs to be transmitted over a data network to your alarm presentation master. Alarm data can be sent over nearly any kind of data transport: Ethernet LAN/WAN, dial-up modem, dedicated circuit, overhead channel, etc.

Presentation: Displaying Your Alarms in an Actionable Format
The final phase in alarm monitoring is presenting the alarm data in a useful way so that a human being can read the information and use it to direct repairs. This is done through a specialized computer called an alarm presentation master.

The master is really the most important part of the entire alarm system. The master collects the alarm reports from RTUs at the remote site and then formats, sorts and displays the information for a human operator.

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Part 5: How to Plan Your Alarm Monitoring Upgrade

Find the Answers to Your Questions

Here are some strategies that will help you find a smooth, gradual upgrade path that will let you transition to a new alarm system over several budget cycles:

What to Do Next

When you're choosing a network monitoring services vendor, don't take chances. Be skeptical. Ask the hard questions. Above all, look for experience.

DPS Telecom has created hundreds of successful monitoring implementations for telecoms, utilities, and transportation companies. Our monitoring solutions are proven performers under real-world conditions.

You're never taking any risk when you work with DPS Telecom. All DPS network monitoring functions are backed by a 30-day, no-risk, money-back guarantee.

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