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Do Small Businesses Really Need Network Management?

We meet a lot of small business owners who experience a LOT of business pain because of badly performing or just downright failing networks. Network connections, (or put more simply your broadband connection and the ability to transact and communicate) have become essential for all but the tiniest fraction of businesses nowadays. Of course, its been the dilemma for as long as technology has been a factor in business that small businesses simply cannot afford to support their technological infrastructure in the way that they know they need to.

So whats to do? Most people are just winging it to be fair. The systems we buy nowadays for business are pretty good but far from perfect.

Of course the real trouble is never expected until it arrives.

So when the perfect storm of unaffordable costs to cover the systems we need and systems failure hits, we need to make decisions we really don’t want to have to make. Unjustifiable costs suddenly become justifiable in the face of the totality of the eclipse and the value proposition changes dramatically until everything is fixed, the network goes back to sleep and calm is restored. Until the next time.

This is where a low cost management solution from Rustyice Solutions really becomes your greatest asset. Our small unobtrusive RCAD (Rustyice Control & Access Device) will sit quietly inside your network continuously monitoring the health of your network devices and also your connection to the outside world.

Our systems offer 24x7x365 real time visibility of a multitude of measurable metrics within your network ensuring that, when coupled with our realtime SMS, Email and Messenger alerts component you are always fully informed about the health of your network systems.

Imagine your business broadband connection goes down in the middle of the night. You don’t want to be in the position where you are making the necessary telephone calls having just realised the problem when you arrive at the office at 8.30. With an RCAP that process can begin via our automated systems while you sleep and can potentially be resolved by the time you get to your front door.

An RCAP is much more than a broadband & network monitor however. Through your RCAP you can monitor anything on your premises such as motion sensors, fire alarm panels, smoke alarms, in fact anything that can be measured by a sensor. You can collect statistics on printer paper use, ACU health, HVAC system performance and even the levels in the coffee machine. The RCAP from Rustyice solutions really does it all and, with a customised dashboard designed by our engineers you will have all the data you need at your fingertips, alerting you at precisely the trigger points you require to ensure your business runs smoothly.

At the superbly affordable price of £14.99 per month why wouldn’t you?

Interested? Contact us today for a test drive. With no contracts and no commitments it really is an offer you can’t afford to refuse.

Contact us today to order your new RCAP.

Enhancing Oil,Gas and Power Operations – SCADA via Satellite

Oil and gas operations are located in unforgiving environments, from the blistering cold of the arctic to the scorching heat of the deserts and the storming conditions out on the open sea. To sustain secure operating conditions in these remote areas, reliable communication is as vital to the end-user as the umbilical cord is to an unborn child.

 

Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a unique aspect of oil, gas and power distribution operations in that it does not entail communication between people, but between machines, also known as machine–machine (M2M).

SCADA describes a computer based system that manages mission critical process applications on the ‘factory floor’. These applications are frequently critical for health, safety and the environment.

The term telemetry is often used in combination with SCADA. Telemetry describes the process of collating data and performing remotely controlled actions via a suitable transmission media. In the context of this article, the telemetry media is a satellite communications solution.

SCADA in Oil, Gas and Power Distribution Operations

SCADA is not limited to a particular aspect of these types of operations. In the Oil and Gas industry, SCADA applications can be found in upstream areas such as well monitoring, downstream in areas such as pipeline operations, in trade by managing the fiscal metering/custody transfer operations and logistics in applications such as inventory management of tank storage facilities. SCADA systems in the Power Distribution industry use RTUs and PLCs to perform the majority of on-site control. The RTU or PLC acquires the site data, which includes meter readings, pressure, voltage, or other equipment status, then performs local control and transfers the data to the central SCADA system. However, when comparing and specifying a solution for challenging SCADA environments, RTU and PLC-based systems are not equal.

PLC Systems are Sub-Optimal for Complex SCADA Systems

Originally designed to replace relay logic, PLCs acquire analog and/or digital data through input modules, and execute a program loop while scanning the inputs and taking actions based on these inputs. PLCs perform well in sequential logic control applications with high discrete I/O data counts, but suffer from overly specialized design, which results in limited CPU performance, inadequate communication flexibility, and lack of easy scalability when it comes to adding future requirements other than I/O.
With the rapid expansion of remote site monitoring and control, three critical industry business trends have recently come into focus:

• System performance and intelligence – Process automation improves efficiency, plant safety, and reduces labor costs. However, complex processes like AGA gas flow calculations and high-resolution event capture in electric utility applications require very high performance and system-level intelligence. The reality is that even high-performance PLCs cannot meet all these expectations.

• Communication flexibility – Redundant communication links between remote systems and the central SCADA application form the basis of a reliable, secure, and safe enterprise. Power routing automation in electric applications, water distribution, warning systems, and oil and gas processes all require unique communication mediums including slow dial-up phone lines, medium speed RF, and broadband wired/wireless IP.

• Configurability and reduced costs – Although process monitoring and control are well defined and understood within many industries, the quest for flexibility and reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) remains challenging. In the past, proprietary PLC units customized with third party components filled the niche, but suffered from lack of configurability and higher maintenance costs than fully integrated units. Today, businesses look for complete modular off-the shelf systems that yield high configurability with a significant improvement in TCO.

At the technical level, several requirements currently influence the SCADA specification process:
• Local intelligence and processing – High processing throughput, 64 bit CPUs with expanded memory for user applications and logging with support for highly complex control routines.

• High-speed communication ports – Monitoring large numbers of events requires systems that support multiple RS232/485 connections running at 230/460 kb/s and multiple Ethernet ports with 10/100 Mb/s capability.

• High-density, fast, and highly accurate I/O modules Hardware that implements 12.5 kHz input counters with 16-bit analog inputs and 14-bit analog outputs for improved accuracy.

• Broadband wireless and wired IP communications. Recent innovations in IP devices demands reliable connectivity to local IEDs (Intelligent Electronic Devices) as well as emerging communication network standards.

• Strict adherence to open standard industry protocols including Modbus, DNP3, and DF-1 on serial and TCP/IP ports

• Robust protocols for support of mixed communication environments.

• Protection of critical infrastructure – Enhanced security such as password-protected programming, over the air encryption, authentication, and IP firewall capability.

Selecting a Satellite Communication Solution – Factors to Consider

Security

When selecting a satellite communications solution, there are numerous factors that must be considered. Enterprise applications like e-mail, Internet access, telephony, videoconferencing, etc. frequently tie into public communications infrastructure. Due to security and reliability considerations it is considered best practice to isolate mission critical SCADA communications infrastructure from public networks.

The Rustyice solution is a dedicated satellite communications network solution tailored for the SCADA applications environment. By virtue of system design, our solution offers greater security against hacker attacks and virus infestation which mainly target computers that are connected to the Internet and are running office applications.

Reliability

Due to the critical nature of most SCADA operations, a reliable communication solution is of utmost importance. The satellite communications industry is mature with a proven track record. Satellite transponder availability is typically in the 99.99 percentile range, a number far superior to that of terrestrial networks. To build on this strength, our solution utilises a miniature satellite hub that is deployed at the end-users SCADA control centre. Data to/from the remote terminal units (RTUs) are piped directly into the SCADA system. There is no vulnerable terrestrial back-haul from a communication service providers facility, which can cause the entire network to crash if cut during public works, i.e. digging.

To increase the reliability of the hub, it is frequently deployed in a redundant/load sharing configuration. This ensures that the hub is available more than 100% of the time, making it far from the weakest link in the communication chain.

Types of Connectivity

Contrary to enterprise-related communications which take place randomly, SCADA communication is quite predictable. It is a continuous process, where the SCADA application polls the RTUs at regular intervals. The outgoing poll request is a short datagram (packet) containing as few as 10 bytes. The returned data from the RTUs are also in a datagram format with the message size being from 10 bytes to 250 bytes. One could easily assume that a satellite solution based upon dial-up connectivity such as Inmarsat, Iridium or Globalstar would be ideal for this application environment. Since SCADA is not just data collection, but also entails control (which at times can be of an emergency nature), you simply cannot wait for the system to encounter a busy connection. What is needed is a system that provides an ‘always on’ type of connection, commonly referred to as leased line connectivity.

A Rustyice solution supports both circuit switched (leased line and multi drop) and packet switched (TCP/IP and X.25) applications concurrently.

Contact us today to speak to one of our representatives and examine how a Rustyice Satellite SCADA solution can offer your operations the best of all worlds.

Increase Guard Effectiveness with Breakthrough Real-Time Event Detection in Sheet Plants

Sheet plants are sensitive areas that need to be strictly protected. As potential targets for thieves or vandals as well as being extremely dangerous environments, even seemingly benign behavior can have seriously consequences. However, the cost of employing human guards, especially in remote locations and along perimeters, can be exceedingly high, and ineffective at preventing incidents.

Rustyice Solutions can help protect sheet plants through:

  • Proactive monitoring of all perimeters and secure entrances: Our IP cameras and encoders increase the effectiveness and efficiency of onsite guards by delivering the market’s leading real-time event detection, notifying onsite security, roaming patrols, and monitoring stations when perimeters and secure areas are breached
  • Immediate event verification and response:  Our IP cameras and encoders enable roaming patrols and central monitoring stations to verify, respond and prevent incidents in real-time by delivering pre and post alarm clips to smart phones and VMS platforms and providing live video plus 2 way audio to cameras.
  • Extended wireless deployments: Our IP cameras and encoders are the best choice for deployment on any wireless network because our recording solutions record all video in a fully integrated, onboard NVR, eliminating the bandwidth used to backhaul video to centralized storage. Therefore, traditional limits on camera density for a network are removed.
  • Minimal infrastructure: Our Industrial Process Control surveillance solutions reduce upfront cost, installation time and ongoing maintenance by archiving all video – even full high definition 1080p/30 fps resolution – in a fully integrated onboard NVR and eliminating the need for external storage servers, dedicated high capacity networks and secure IT facilities to house them.
  • Zero bandwidth recording: By correct network design and encoder choice we consume 90% less bandwidth than traditional IP and high definition cameras by storing video in a fully integrated, onboard NVR and eliminating the bandwidth used to backhaul video to centralized storage. Of course, stored and live video is always available at the click of a mouse.
  • Simple installation: Rustyice’s cameras and encoders are easy to install because the solution eliminates the need to deploy any external servers and our adaptive analytics are 100% self-calibrating, eliminating the need to manually calibrate or tune the analytics in the field.
  • Intelligent logging of all vehicles and personnel:Our solutions accelerate investigations from days to minutes by intelligently profiling and indexing every person and vehicle seen at the site, allowing operators to rapidly search terabytes of stored video at the click of a button for rule violations, and even search for matches for a particular object across all cameras and encoders in the system.

Contact us today to discuss this innovative solution which not only saves you money but helps you to make money.

What is video management software?

Video management software running on a Windows or Unix/Linux server, supplies the basis for video monitoring, analysis, and recording. A wide range of software is available, based on the users’ requirements. A standard Web browser provides adequate viewing for many network video applications, utilizing the Web interface built into the network camera or video server especially if only one or a few cameras are viewed at the same time.

To view several cameras at the same time, dedicated video management software is required. A wide range of video management software is available. In its simplest form, it offers live viewing, storing and retrieving of video sequences. Advanced software contains features such as:

  • Simultaneous viewing and recording of live video from multiple cameras
  • Several recording modes: continuous, scheduled, on alarm and on motion detection
  • Capacity to handle high frame rates and large amounts of data
  • Multiple search functions for recorded events
  • Remote access via a Web browser, client software and even PDA client
  • Control of PTZ and dome cameras
  • Alarm management functions (sound alarm, pop-up windows or e-mail)
  • Full duplex, real-time audio support
  • Video intelligence

Video management: Monitoring & recording

Video management of a network video system includes video monitoring, which can be conducted from a Web browser or specific video management software. Video recording can be conducted from video management software installed on a PC or through the use of a Network Video Recorder (NVR), which is a hardware box with pre-installed video management software.

In a network video system, video can be viewed from any point on the network provided there is access to a Web browser. Each camera has a built-in Web server with an IP address, so to view the images on a PC, one simply opens a Web browser and types in the camera’s IP address in the Address/Location field:

Even though video can be viewed directly from a standard Web browser, video management software can be installed if more flexible viewing options, as well as the ability to store and manage video, are required. A wide variety of software solutions exist on the market, which range from independent solutions for a single PC, to advanced client/server-based software providing support for multiple simultaneous users. Common functionality includes video monitoring, event management functions and alerts to alarm events via siren or e-mail for instance.