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"Case Study: Silver Star Communications Establishes Critical Alternate-Path Access to DLC, Mux, and Switch Equipment during LAN Failures"


Silver Star Communications started out as a family operation over 60 years ago providing basic telephone service to Star Valley, Wyoming. What began as a traditional telephone company has evolved into a full-scale technology company offering communications and broadband services to a wide geographic area covering Eastern Idaho and Northwestern Wyoming.

"Before we had the NetGuardians, we didn't have connectivity to our devices when LAN failed. We had to drive out to the site."

Silver Star CO Technician Jim Eddins
Jim Eddins
Central Office Technician
Silver Star Communications

Jim Eddins is the Central Office Technician for Silver Star Communications in Freedom, WY. "I take care of everything from inside the central office to the remote huts," he explains. "And I mean everything. I handle anything from equipment installations to mopping the floors."

"If our LAN disappears, we can get into our pieces of equipment through the terminal server serial ports on the back of the NetGuardian. It's a back door for us to get in there, and we use that quite a bit."

LAN outages were creating expensive truck rolls
Eddins remembers a time when a LAN failure meant a costly and time-consuming truck roll. "Before we had the NetGuardians, we didn't have connectivity to our devices when LAN failed," Eddins recalls. "We had to drive out to the site. The average drive time is about 90 minutes round-trip."

"Connected to the NetGuardian, I have all my DLC's like my AFC and the Calix C7, all our AdTran 2820 muxes, SONET, Cisco ONS 15454"

Cisco ONS 15454, AdTran 2820 Mux, Calix C7 communcating via TL1 through a NetGuardian 832A to a T/Mon hardware platform running the ASCII processor software module
Silver Star Communications has established a sophisticated TL1 forwarding and processing system that enables them to remotely access important equipment when the LAN is down eliminating expensive truck rolls that waste hours of a technician's time.

The NetGuardian's serial terminal server provides alternative access when the LAN is down
Silver Star uses NetGuardian 832A remotes as a redundant serial access path. This provides important connectivity to network equipment when LAN fails. "We have LAN connection to all of our DPS NetGuardian boxes and we also have LAN connection to our pieces of equipment," says Eddins. "If our LAN disappears, we can get into our pieces of equipment through the terminal server serial ports on the back of the NetGuardian. It's a back door for us to get in there, and we use that quite a bit. We have about a dozen sites that we monitor this way."

The equipment that Eddins has connected to the NetGuardian terminal servers includes several big names in Telecom. "Connected to the NetGuardian, I have all my DLC's like my AFC and the Calix C7, all our AdTran 2820 muxes, SONET, Cisco ONS 15454, door alarms, generators, and temperature," Eddins says. Silver Star's Adtran HDSL-4 specials circuit also connects to the NetGuardian's terminal server for remote troubleshooting. All of this gear can be accessed remotely via the serial pass-through on the NetGuardian 832A when LAN fails.

Tuition-Free Factory Training covers both the fundamentals and "fascinating" new tools
To extend the benefits that Silver Star receives from its monitoring gear, Eddins attended a tuition-free DPS Factory Training. He wanted to learn about the ASCII alarm processor on his T/Mon master station, and to see new developments in the T/Mon product line. "I came to training to learn about ASCII," Eddins explains. "We have an older version of the T/Mon master station, so we're looking at the new stuff and what it can do. It's pretty fascinating."

"We got the new Nortel CS 1500 switch. It came with a NetGuardian 832A. We'll hook that up and get that running. Then we'll have live streaming alarms so we can see what's going on."

A chance to see a new battery monitoring tool
While at training, Eddins also had a chance to see new technologies from DPS. He was particularly interested the new Battery Voltage Monitor (BVM) 48. "The BVM was pretty cool," he said. "I like how we could monitor each battery cell separately. So we can look at a whole battery string instead of going out every 6 months and rolling a truck and using a battery tester. We can just look at it remotely. The alarm trending graphs in the web interface let you see what's going on."

The future of alarm monitoring at Silver Star Communications
When he returns home after Factory Training, Eddins plans to use the ASCII and SNMP skills he learned, and also set up the NetGuardian that was included with his new Nortel CS 1500 switch. "At training, I learned about ASCII and SNMP," Eddins says. "That's what I came to learn. When I go back, I'll implement that. We got the new Nortel CS 1500 switch. It came with a NetGuardian 832A. We'll hook that up and get that running. Then we'll have live streaming alarms so we can see what's going on."

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