- 60% cost savings with an Opengear turnkey solution.
- Simplified interoperability with multiple diverse systems. The Unique Communications team uses Opengear devices for serial or terminal server connection over IP to facilitate access to other devices with ease.
- A secured “network bridge” to legacy systems. As a “network bridge” for Unique Communications, Opengear devices support easy call records collection from legacy communication systems.
About Unique Communications
Located in Henderson, Nevada, Unique Communications provides unified communication management software and consulting services to large organizations such as hospitals, universities, military bases, and enterprises.
Dedicated to customer success, Unique has been innovating since the two co-founders wrote the first cable management software for their few Air Force Customers more than 30 years ago. Since then, the company has been growing its product portfolio. Famous for its CAIRS (Configuration Accounting Information Retrieval System) product, Unique continues to create software that customers want while also providing “unusually awesome support.”
Nowadays, CAIRS is used worldwide to manage various telecommunication assets, cut communications costs, and improve operational efficiency. And most important of all, it saves lives with accurate Automatic Location Identifier (ALI) Data for E9-1-1.
Unique has a long history of using out-of-band solutions. However, their vendor suddenly discontinued the specific solutions that the team had been relying on for remote access. As Brandon Arthur, the Product Manager for Unique’s Emergency Communications Platform, says, “Unique is part of a niche market with very specific use case with strict security requirements.”
Brandon and the team decided to seek out other out-of-band solutions. Although the device they had used in the past was still available, the price had quadrupled, and the IT support was reduced substantially.
Frugality – doing more with less — is one of Unique’s values. Therefore, it was clear that the team needed a new solution more aligned with their values. Additionally, the new devices would also have to meet strict security requirements and pass rigorous tests to meet their customers’ needs.
The Unique team started their research for a new out-of-band solution that could meet their strict security and performance requirements. It was also important that the new solution be cost-optimized to maximize their return on investment.
Once they identified Opengear ACM 7000 Resilience Gateway, they placed their initial order. Designed for edge locations, the ACM7000 Resilience provides secure remote access to critical devices via Smart Out-of-Band management. Additionally, an embedded, global 4G-LTE cellular modem offers an alternate path when the primary link is unavailable. After trialing for several weeks, the team was happy with the results. They then decided to replace the rest of the legacy out-of-band solution with Opengear.
The team uses ACM700 Resilience Gateway for two primary use cases. First, to facilitate their interoperability with other systems. In other words, Opengear devices are used for serial to IP (or terminal server) conversion to facilitate access to other devices. For customer-environment legacy systems, or for an out-of-band environment, they use Opengear IP to serial (or to the terminal server if it is a terminal-based system) to do automated scripting or provisioning.
The second being, using Opengear as a “network bridge” that securely traverses networks. “I keep expounding on that specifically — the serial IP connection to access collection call records. A lot of the legacy systems output call records in a stream over a serial port. We need a serial attached device to collect that output,” Brandon said The Unique team uses the internal storage capabilities in ACM7000 as an SFTP server to collect the output of call records from the communication system. Call-record collection is the most frequent use case for Unique due to the large number of legacy systems they deal with.
Additionally, the Unique team uses Opengear’s Environmental Monitoring Devices (EMD) to detect contact closures of the network. An alternative way of using EMD devices they capture the network closure and send an SMP to capture more details and uncover the underlying issue.
The Unique team were very happy with the results and grouped them into two categories. First, the cost savings, which were quite straightforward. The Opengear device is one-third the cost of the legacy device. Those are major savings for any organization, including Unique, which has hundreds of deployments.
Second is the advanced capabilities they have access to with Opengear devices. Although they appreciate that Opengear is a reliable turnkey solution that is easy to use out of the box, they are also excited about all the advanced capabilities. They have just scratched the surface in utilizing Opengear’s functionality and are looking forward to the possibilities.