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When AT&T began building its Internet services in the late 1990s, the company faced a dilemma. It needed to install uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) in its facilities, but the devices wouldn’t interface with the existing network monitoring equipment in sites that were formerly SBC Internet sites. After some research, the company decided to make a switch to the RLE Technologies Falcon monitoring system. Ten years later, AT&T still uses the Falcon – in 49 sites throughout the United States.

“A lot in the box”

Jim Swiger, senior technical support analyst of network at AT&T, knows how important proactive, real-time monitoring is to the company’s Internet services. And after more than 10 years, he knows the Falcon system inside and out. What prompted the choice to switch to the Falcon – and the commitment to stay with it, supporting even the largest Internet-specialized data center ever built?

“You get a lot in the box compared to other products,” Swiger says, “A lot of flexibility: analog measurement, digital points…devices can be configured either way, without affecting other points. It’s a really cool feature.” And an important one: With facilities ranging from 1,200 to 55,000 square feet and servicing the IP portion of every AT&T customer’s experience, keeping a multitude of devices running smoothly is a must. The Falcon system lets Swiger and his team keep tabs on everything: generators, fuse panels, temperature, humidity, UPSs, amperage loads, and more. Along with the flexibility to monitor both analog and digital systems, Swiger is pleased with the Falcon’s ability to support multiple protocols–and to do so consistently over time.

“I use a graphing system,” he says, “that’s pulling analog points, telling me amperage, frequency of engine runs, durations, temperature and humidity. I have a long-term history that goes back years.”

Already there

AT&T is now using the Falcon in its video hub offices, which provide the company’s U-verse(SM) video services. Again, Swiger highlights the Falcon’s ability to monitor and report on individual devices while being managed centrally. “The Falcon sends our network analysts cell-phone notifications,” he says. “Often, by the time they get called out manually, they’re already in the office!”

Open and easy

Ease of use is another plus in Swiger’s book. He points out that many comparable products are proprietary and difficult to work with. Users end up spending a lot on contract man hours or expensive training courses just to keep such systems operational. How does the Falcon stack up by comparison? “These units are so easy to work with,” Swiger says. “The code is not convoluted and you don’t need special vendor software. I’m doing my analytics with just a downloaded, off-the-Net, build-a-configuration-in-your-Linux-machine application.”

To be fair, Swiger did take a training course for the Falcon – but only after having used it

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