The conditions of Spring 2020 have more of us working from home than the office. As we all face these new challenges, I wanted to share guidance to ease one part of that transition: best practices in the area of remote IP device configuration.
Urban Alarm - the security integrator business I started in 2008 and sold in 2017 - was built from the ground up, using distributed teams. In addition to accounting and HR functions being performed largely remotely, most of our system configuration was done overnight, using remote teams.
I am sharing this diagram on how we set up our remote configuration “bench” where office warehouse or technical staff would set up IP devices (e.g., servers, cameras, panels, etc) to be configured remotely.
Under the current circumstances during which social distancing is required, this set up has new value: to address team safety and health by minimizing the number of team members needed in the office. Senior engineers may work from home to manage both company and customer systems remotely, but also to pre-configure devices and thereby minimize hours in the office and on customer job sites.
The elements of this set up include:
- A network router/switch - remotely accessible - with multiple VLANs where the interior (secure) and exterior (insecure) sides of server (e.g., camera server, access control appliance) maybe both be connected at once.
- A remotely accessible camera (e.g., security camera or webcam pulled from the bottom of a box in your warehouse)
- A remotely accessible IP power strip that allows remote power cycling of each individual outlet (e.g., https://www.amazon.com/stores/node/20073968011)
The most advanced skill required to set up this configuration is configuring the “port based VLAN” on your network switch. This will be specific to your network switch, make, and model - but can be easily searched for. This example of for a Cisco 300 switch.
If we can be of assistance during this time of uncertainty -- both to customers and non-customers -- please let us know. We are more than ready to discuss this set up with your team, and share our other experiences in setting up and managing distributed teams in a security installer and integration business.
Wishing you and your loved ones the best,
Miles Fawcett, CEO FieldHub