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Resolving 60-70% of your AV issues without a technician setting foot in the room is difficult but possible, however it requires a good investment in tooling, people and process. The cost per incident when a technician has to be dispatched rises significantly and in a large building, university campus or office with remote sites, the return on investment for a good remote monitoring and management system can be very high.
The same is true of incidents where the power or data cables have been disconnected, or equipment powered off inappropriately. While monitoring kit can’t in itself prevent that, it will help you see when it goes offline, and perhaps a pattern of regular room users will emerge to help find the culprit. As a side-note you can also achieve significant energy savings using a remote monitoring tool as it will tell you which equipment is being left on, and in many cases will let you remotely power off too.
Tools-wise, if you use any of the major control systems, the manufacturers will provide their own tools – Extron Global Viewer Enterprise, Crestron Fusion and AMX Resource Management Suite to name but a few. They are all Windows IIS/SQL/.NET based and will enable remote support as well by acting as a proxy for connections to in-room hardware, working over VPN for remote sites as well. Other manufacturers are following suit – Clevertouch, for example, now supports MDM (mobile device management), OTA (over the air) software updates and remote support via VNC on their Pro Android products.
Anything else that sits on the network can be monitored by commercial products such as PRTG, Solarwinds or Nagios with some setup. Kit that support SNMP (like projectors, for example) will often divulge useful troubleshooting information, such as temperature, current source and power-on hours, enabling decisions to be made to maximise the life of your equipment, for example by rotating a number of projectors through a room that sees heavy usage.
All of the above tools will provide comprehensive reporting functionality on a par with your enterprise IT systems, to provide availability, uptime and energy usage metrics which can be used to justify further investment, for example APC’s range of rackmount power strips with the ability to remotely power on and off individual sockets over the network, allowing equipment to be powered down at night and rebooted during the day if it becomes unresponsive.
Investing in a monitoring solution and processes will also expose AV data to your department’s Event and Problem Management teams, who may be able to correlate issues with room equipment to network or server glitches, changes in electrical load or temperature extremes. The capability to resolve issues before they impact your customers can empower your AV staff to work on proactive improvements rather than running around firefighting, and who knows, you might end up with your carpets lasting a year or two longer as well.
CDEC Ltd provides a complete range of AV-specialist managed services including proactive remote monitoring and event management.