Migrating away from your legacy RTUs is a great way to improve your network reliability. It also represents a precious opportunity to deploy the most advanced monitoring gear available. The chance to upgrade a large chunk of your monitoring network doesn't come around very often, so you need to make the most of it. Your vendor choice will have a big impact on your ability to reduce costs and protect revenue in the years to come.
As you prepare to replace your legacy monitoring system, you need to seriously evaluate your remote needs and find a solution that will give you maximum visibility of your mission-critical equipment. During the process, it is important that you look not only at your current network, but that you also consider your future visibility needs.
At DPS, we've helped hundreds of clients with legacy migration projects. Our expertise and technical support will help you through designing and deploying your modern monitoring system. Because we've worked with so many clients who are upgrading their legacy systems, we know the secrets of a hassle-free transition.
Look for these 8 key elements to make sure you choose the right legacy-replacement RTU:
Multiple Open Protocol Support
If you're migrating away from legacy remotes, there's a good chance you're worried about proprietary protocols. If you've been locked into a protocol that only one vendor supports, you understand the frustration of having very few options that are compatible with your existing system.
Your legacy migration is your chance to escape the trap of proprietary protocols. By deploying an advanced RTU that supports an open protocol, such as SNMP or TL1, your system will be compatible with equipment from a wide range of vendors.
Adequate Point Capacity - For Today and for the Future
If your legacy RTUs don't have enough alarm inputs to support your larger sites, you've probably found yourself in the unfortunate position of deciding which mission-critical devices you can "live without" monitoring. All of your equipment is important, and your monitoring system should have enough capacity to monitor it.
Your legacy migration is your opportunity to gain visibility of all of your network devices. Your company's network expansion likely outpaced all estimates, but now you have the opportunity to build sufficient capacity and flexible expansion options into your new system. Even if you aren't certain how much your sites will grow in the next several years, it's always a good idea to purchase RTU's that support expansion units. Make sure you select a vendor that has a variety of options to suit your small and large sites.
Support for Advanced Notification Methods
Your legacy remotes probably don't support automatic alarm notifications via cell phone, email, and pager. If they don't, you're losing an opportunity to dramatically reduce windshield time.
If your technicians can get alarm notifications right from the field, they can perform proactive repairs, instead of reacting to notifications from the central office.
Web Browser Interface
One powerful advantage of a modern RTU is a web browser interface. It allows your technicians to check a site's alarms and configure options from anywhere on the network, using only a web browser.
If your existing remotes aren't monitoring analogs, it's time to consider analog monitoring within your network. When choosing a contemporary remote, you will have the option to deploy gear with more advanced monitoring capabilities, including environmental, fuel, and battery level monitoring with analog alarm inputs. With these inputs you can monitor more than just on-and-off alarms; you can monitor "how much". Analog inputs also provide you with threshold monitoring, generating alarms when a value crosses user-defined thresholds.
Multiple Transport Options
If you're currently running a legacy monitoring system, chances are that you're also using legacy transport, including serial and dialup.
If some of your sites don't have LAN available, you need to make sure that you purchase RTUs that support your existing transport. It would be an expensive waste to extend LAN to your distant sites just because your RTUs don't support serial or dial-up.
However, your new remotes must also support LAN to be ready for the future. When your network expands to reach your very remote sites, you'll be able to quickly switch over to LAN transport without purchasing any additional equipment.
It's also a best practice to find a remote that supports additional transport protocols, such as FrameRelay or PPP/T1. When you purchase remotes that supports open-protocol reporting over both LAN and T1 transport you can deploy them at many different types of sites.
Alternate Path Reporting
If your legacy monitoring remotes are offline whenever you encounter a primary communication path failure, look for alternate path reporting as you evaluate modern remotes. Alternate path reporting provides you with the option of sending your alarm data using an additional transport method when necessary. If your LAN network isn't functioning properly, modern remotes embedded with alternate path reporting will automatically transmit alarm data across a secondary path, such as dial-up.
When you encounter a major, extended network outage, you'll be glad your modern remotes remain online. Without the alternate path reporting found in advanced remotes, you'll completely lose visibility of your network during a communication path failure. Without a connection to remotes, you could miss alarms, causing even bigger problems within the network. To avoid this, find a remote that can utilize a number of your available transport paths. This will keep your monitoring online when you need it most.
Databasing your alarm points can be a lengthy process, especially without a convenient databasing utility. Deploy a remote that has a Windows-based databasing utility that works over LAN to make your legacy migration as easy as possible. Make sure it stores configuration of your full RTU network to protect against data loss.
Following these guidelines will ensure you end up with a monitoring solution that will serve you and your network very well into the future. For more information about finding the perfect RTU for your legacy migration, download our Selecting the Perfect RTU white paper.
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