Bringing legacy systems to the network also means alarm information can be distributed to more people, faster, and with more detail; complex escalation policies can be easily implemented and sending out email, text message, or information on remote digital display devices is easier to implement and manage. All of these benefits enable you to manage your network and business more effectively.
3. Reduce staff requirements
As any IT or network manager knows, managing a suite of disparate systems is an inefficient use of critical staff resources. Older legacy systems require special skills that draw from an ever-smaller talent pool of technicians, who were trained when these systems were current and who have likely not passed this knowledge down to newer staff. It is reminiscent of the Y2K issue that brought all the Cobol programmers out of retirement to stave off the potential crisis. Different systems require teams with different skill sets to operate, support and maintain them, and if those specialized technicians are unavailable, downtime can occur. Unnecessary site visits are the number one cause of downtime costs, so anything that minimizes the duration of downtime is best for long-term success.
Combining legacy systems into industry standard protocols makes it much easier to find – and cultivate – a talent pool that comes pre-loaded with the skills needed for the tasks at hand. Cross training is simplified and scheduling is much easier if all technicians read from the same playbook. Likewise, system management is more simple, effective and budget-friendly when all systems operate under the same umbrella.
Once you’ve decided to integrate legacy systems with the network, the next logical question is, how? Upgrading everything to be compatible with the network would be great, but there are several reasons why that might not be possible.
Legacy systems that are purpose-built are embedded in the infrastructure of the facility or campus, such as environmental systems, generators and telephony. In these cases, a forklift replacement is simply too costly or disruptive to the mission of the organization to be feasible. Additionally, sometimes these legacy systems are older with discrete contact closure alarms that are inconvenient to access, located in a basement or distributed throughout a campus with only a few points at each location.
The good news is that these legacy systems can be brought into the network area easily and at a much lower cost than a total replacement. By leveraging a standard network management tool along with proxies to convert legacy data and I/O into that standard, you can easily integrate systems into the networked environment, and in the short term begin saving time and money and operating more efficiently.
About the Author: David Weiss is president and CEO of Dataprobe, a provider of power and network solutions designed to help reduce the threat of downtime to organizations. With over 20 years of experience in product management and business development, Weiss is an expert in the remote site management technology industry. Prior to becoming president of the company, Weiss held various roles in technical support, engineering and sales. He also helped develop a custom capabilities platform that enabled products to be designed and manufactured to a customer’s precise specifications, elevating the company as an industry leader and trusted OEM partner.