Recently, we launched a blog series on understanding the various deployment options for emergency notification systems. In our first post, we defined the three main types: hosted, on-premise and hybrid. In our second post, we outlined the various advantages and disadvantages of a hosted solution.
We’ll now consider the pluses and minuses of the “on-premise” deployment approach.
On-premise systems have physical hardware located within the agency’s EOC. Generally, this is comprised of a servers(s) loaded with software and connected to a number of on-premise telephone lines (often a T1, or multiple T1 lines). The configuration may be a closed system accessible only from the physical location of the server, it may be connected to a Local Area Network accessible within certain designated areas or nodes, or it may even be configured as a web server, making the system available to anyone over the Internet with proper login credentials.
Advantages to this deployment option include:
- Tight control. With all hardware residing inside the EOC, this approach provides emergency managers with the greatest degree of physical control over the system.
- No network required. Telephone notifications may still be launched through the local server and dedicated telephone lines even if the IP network is not available/functioning.
- No “per call” fees. With dedicated telephone lines, there are no variable costs related to outbound calling. Of course, the agency must pay a monthly fee for lease of the lines, but this is a predictable expense that doesn’t vary by usage.
- Traditional funding options. On-premise systems are typically bought outright potentially providing for easier budgeting or opening additional funding opportunities related to the purchase of capital equipment. Even now, some agencies find it difficult to fund a “subscription service.”
Disadvantages to this deployment option include:
- Agency-maintained system. The burden of maintaining, updating and upgrading the system falls on personnel within the agency.
- Lack of redundancy. If something goes wrong with the system, there is generally no failover mechanism in place to automatically take over and continue processing a notification.
- Limited telephone capacity. In a pure on-premise environment, the number of telephone lines connected to the system limits notification callouts. Because of the expense, rarely does one see more than 48 lines connected to a system. This creates significant capacity limitations when large callouts are required.
- More complex and costly networking. It is possible to configure an on-premise system to function as a web server (making the software accessible over a network or the Internet). However, this requires more hardware, more money, and greater internal technical abilities to manage/maintain the complexity.
The number of pure on-premise deployments is diminishing as emergency managers seek to address some of the major disadvantages identified here. In our next post, we’ll examine the “middle-of-the-road” approach of the hybrid deployment option (a combination of on-premise and hosted). Until then, feel free to comment on your experiences wrestling with the tradeoffs associated with any of these deployment options.
Galain Solutions, Inc.
Emergency Notification Technology and Process Consulting