Perle Systems Case Study
Access and Management of Remote Serial Equipment
A common misconception is that in order to access and manage remote serial equipment, close physical proximity to the devices is required. This is not the case. A common scenario is where multiple people at various physical locations require access to the same equipment. In a test-bed situation for instance, during the development stages of a new product, the best solution is to Ethernet enable the equipment. This allows multiple users to access and manage the equipment.
In addition it is often useful to be able to power cycle on/off the equipment – to restart testing etc. Manually accessing and power cycling the equipment is time consuming and expensive. Personnel are often required to travel to and from a site in order to carry out this procedure, which is prone to human error. The integrity and security of data being tested and transmitted may also be compromised whenever manual interception is required.
It is possible to avoid this cumbersome process by deploying a Perle Remote Power Switch, in conjunction with a Perle IOLAN Console Server. A Console Server can be connected to the console port of any device and allow access via Ethernet to the equipment. The Console Server, with advanced security features such as SSH and SSL encryption allows secure and safe access to the serial equipment out of band – even when the network is down! IT staff can access and control the attached equipment over Ethernet, from various locations and do not physically need to be present on site. By connecting a Perle Remote Power Switch to the Console Server, IT staff are also able to power cycle and power on/off the equipment from a remote location.
The Set-Top Box Industry
The competition amongst manufacturers of Digital TV Set-Top-Boxes (STB) is fierce. Before a new product hits the consumer shelves, it is tested extensively in order to provide the best possible product for the consumer and in order to avoid a worst case scenario of product recall and costly repairs. The development of the finished article that consumers see requires various testing processes of the STB which covers design and integration of user interface, functionality and compatibility, by both the manufacturer of the STB’s and the TV Operators.
The Project S3 – StormTest™ - Intelligent Automated STB Testing Solution
S3 has developed an automated test system for Set-Top Boxes (STB) that replaces manual testing with a more accurate and cost-effective alternative. The automated test system allows manufacturers of STB and digital TV operators to remotely access and test STB’s automatically without having to be in the same physical location as the test bed. The system that S3 has developed is called StormTestTM. The architecture for StormTest™ is based on a strict Client-Server architecture, which depends only on having a network connection between the client and the server. In practice this means that the hardware and STBs can be in one physical location and tests can be executed from a different physical location.
Each test rack, provided by S3 with the StormTest™ software package can house up to 16 STBs. Each STB in each rack has to be individually addressable and controllable over the network. It must also be possible to capture and store the resulting output from each STB.
A key objective, which involved the requirement for a Perle resolution, was to be able to remotely power cycle each STB in the test bed. This had previously been done manually. In addition, the serial data from each STB needed to be logged and communicated to the StormTest™ application software on a remote client.
The StormTest™ set-up allows automation of the most routine STB testing. A rack of STBs can be connected to a server which contains video capture cards for instance. The STBs in the rack can be individually controlled using an IR Blaster and Remote Power Switch and the resultant audio and video are captured, logged by the Perle IOLAN Console Server and analyzed by clients connected via the network.
S3 worked closely with the Perle Sales team and MaxIT (Perle’s Distribution partner in Ireland) in order to establish the optimum solution for the StormTest™ Rack. The products chosen and implemented are: a 16-way Remote Power Switch (RPS) to allow each STB in the rack to be individually power cycled, and a Perle IOLAN Console Server to enable logging of serial test output of each Set-Top Box to the StormTest™ software.
Results: Why Perle?
- Perle products matched the technical requirements as specified by S3
- Cost of the products were in-line with development budget
- Support was appropriate for the global market
- Warranty T"Cs were appropriate for the product – Perle offers a Lifetime Warranty on its product range of IOLAN’s Terminal Servers and Remote Power Switches (RPS)
S3 provides services, products and IP to the Digital TV industry. S3 has over 15 years experience working with global operators, Set-Top Box (STB) manufacturers, middleware vendors, conditional access vendors and semiconductor companies. S3 is recognized for providing complete solutions using its skilled engineering and project management resources specializing in Lead System Integration Services, Consultancy Services, Equipment Upgrade and Maintenance and TV Products. Founded in 1986, S3 has engineering development centers in San Jose in the USA, Ireland (Dublin and Cork), the Czech Republic, Poland and Portugal and with sales offices and representatives globally. For further information please visit www.s3group.com/tv-technology
About Perle Systems:
Perle Systems is a premier provider of reliable, full-featured and competitively priced serial to Ethernet and I/O connectivity solutions. Since 1976, businesses around the globe have come to trust Perle to deliver superior connectivity technology for their mission critical applications. Perle's extensive product lines are ideal for organizations that need to: establish network connectivity across multiple locations; securely transmit critical and sensitive information; remotely monitor and control networked devices and appliances, and more.