Central Stations: Your Own IP Address

In today’s environment everything is moving to IP for alarm signaling, because it’s more reliable, dependable and scalable than traditional methods of communications, such as toll-free numbers. Manufacturers are pushing this new wave of technology so end users can take advantage of their feature-rich systems on the network and IP is available in more places at higher speeds than any other method.

In technical terms every device on an IP network is assigned a numeric address: XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX. While this is efficient it is also unrealistic for the general public to remember these numbers, especially if they needed to change for any reason.

In order to not only make it easier to remember where things were but also to allow for emergency moves or changes to networks, URL’s (Uniform Resource Locators) were created, so as an example, instead of typing in 216.64.210.28 you could just type www.coke.com.

 

The Internet has been engineered to use URL’s through a very complex system called DNS (Domain Name Servers) and while this works well for Internet browsing and sending emails there are a number of problems such as speed, reliability and security when it comes to sending critical signals to the central stations. Because of this the industry has not allowed the use of DNS servers, only static IP addresses for alarm signaling.

 

The role of the central station

The original IP addressing scheme (IPV4) uses four groups of numbers ranging from 0 to 255 (example 216.064.210.028) this gives you a total of addresses available worldwide 4,294,967,296. We are getting to the point where there are real shortages. The next scheme which is out there is IPV6 and this configuration allows for eight groups of four hexadecimal value’s (example 2001:0db8:85a3:0042:0000:8a2e:0370:7334) it’s unlikely we will ever run out in the foreseeable future.

Presently in the alarm industry, the current offering of IP-based alarm equipment (alarm panels) are ones that use anywhere from one to 16 hard-coded IPV4 addresses. Normally two are used as primary and a secondary for backup. These addresses have traditionally belonged to the central station or more accurately to the ISP (Internet Service Provider) serving the monitoring center.

With toll-free numbers used for dial-up panels you could change the ownership or where they were terminated easily, and many times, instantly. This is not true with IP, as most IP addresses belong to or are registered with the ISP so these addresses are not portable at all. If the dealer wants to change central stations or the central station wants to, or has to switch ISPs these static IP addresses all have to be reprogrammed in the field equipment, something that could cost an installing company hundreds of thousands of dollars and take months to do.

Even if the central station was set up for the special BGP (Border Gateway Control) routing that an installer could route IPV4 addresses to, it’s too cost prohibitive and there are not enough IPV4 addresses left in small blocks where an installer could afford to obtain his own IPV4 address space from ARIN (American Registry of Internet Numbers).

This is where Keep Your IP (KYI Inc.) comes in. The company has its own ARIN IP addresses they lease to alarm installation companies or central stations. The addresses work just like the current toll-free numbers in that they are re-routed in real time with no special equipment at the CS or being forced to use BGP, or incur the expense of ASN’s (Autonomous System Number).

This gives the installer or central station the freedom to use IP-based panels without the concern of reprogramming field equipment in the event they need to move central stations or change ISP’s. Central stations also like the idea of being able to move a client base of accounts to another disaster recovery site in a matter of minutes versus relying on a carrier to make that change.

Keep Your IP offers a simple Web interface. It allows the dealer or central station to obtain new IP addresses, enter a label or name, specify a port and then the target destination IP address, allowing the set up to take only a few minutes to complete. Keep Your IP has three data centers—two in California and another in Florida. These facilities have servers running in a virtual cloud type of environment so there is no single set of servers to fail, and this is how they can keep the “five nines” percentage of uptime.

Most central station and dealers will get IP addresses provisioned in pairs, one from each data center, allowing total redundancy, as these facilities are on different ISP’s and various backbone networks.

 

Reseller program adds value

Keep Your IP offers a reseller/partner program for central stations to take advantage of RMR opportunities as well as control the IP addresses for their alarm dealers within their system as a reliable redundancy plan. This also allows central stations the confidence that an alarm dealer cannot abandon ship to another competitive central station with an outstanding invoice. If an alarm dealer chooses to leave, the central station would just have them contact Keep Your IP to set up an account and then Keep Your IP can swing over their IP information and have them up and running in a matter of minutes.

Another good reason for a central station or alarm dealer to own their IP address is that they can increase value for their company and either sell part or all of their accounts without having to reprogram any existing IP addresses for the purchasing company.

Today there are more options than ever for the changing central station. And keeping your IP address is one way to set yourself apart from the competition.

 

 

Davin A. Roos is a principal and director of Sales & Marketing for Keep Your IP Inc., based in Irvine, Calif.

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