At the start of a new year, talk of renewal is nearly omnipresent. Nowhere is renewal more important than in mission critical spaces where operations run 24/7. There is no hard and fast rule for when a command center must be refreshed, but it is vital to keep operations running at peak performance. Heather Conover, Project Manager at Constant Technologies, said, "The average refresh rate of a 24/7 operations center is about 5-7 years. Audio/visual technology changes quickly, and it's important that mission critical spaces utilize the most reliable equipment possible."
Danny Sasseville, Vice President of Project Engineering at Constant Technologies, had some tips for how to determine if your technology might be in need of an update. "With how quickly technology changes," said Sasseville, "it can be hard for an operation center manager to know the best time to upgrade systems. Display technology can be daunting, and it seems as if there is something new every week." TO help determine whether your operations center needs to be updated, Sasseville recommends considering some of the following major elements.
It is important to consider the operating system used in your command center's display wall processor and the life of its support. For example, processors running Microsoft Windows 7 will no longer have operating system support from Microsoft come January 2020. Your display wall processor and its available operating system support should plan an integral part in your upgrade plan.
Resolution and Aspect Ratio
The quality of your mission critical video wall display and the quality it can support reveal a lot of information about how up-to-date your operations center technology is. Older display wall technologies do not support higher resolutions. Many operators are moving to 4K desktop monitors, and those systems then have to be reduced to 1080p to be shown on the data display wall if the visualization technology is incompatible with higher resolutions. Another element of display quality to keep in mind is aspect ratio, such as if your display is showing 16:9 content with letter boxing.
Digital Versus Analog
"If your displays only support analog inputs such as VGA, composite, and component," said Sasseville, "they won't allow for higher definition inputs without adding hardware that can scale and convert digital to analog." With the industry shifting toward digital sourcing, it is time to update your display technology instead of continually finding workarounds for outdated inputs. In addition, most older systems do not support streaming inputs or outputs. According to Sasseville, "streaming technologies are more prevalent in today's AV systems than ever before, and with the way things are trending they will become more and more commonplace." The analog sunset is on the horizon; it is important to keep your display technology up-to-date before it is left behind.
Current video wall technology is brighter than ever before. In older command center installations, the lighting had to be dim in order to properly view the video display wall. Updated operations centers can have brighter lighting, allowing operators to see at their workstations without the additional assistance of task lighting. If you have to dim the lighting in your operations center in order to make the information on your data display wall legible, it is time to update the technology in your operations center space design.
Power Considerations and Green Initiatives
In many cases, the older the technology, the more power it uses to run. With rising energy costs as well as an increased focus on green initiatives, it is wise to invest in an operations center that uses less power while still operating at optimal levels. As a general rule, newer technologies tend to use less power, which is vital if your space features a 24/7 video wall. Investing in new technologies will reduce your power usage in the long run, allowing you to reach the goals of both your budget and green initiatives.
As the technology changes, so do the needs for operators' command center workstations. Constant used to provide triple tier operations center consoles that housed bulky CRT monitors and large desktop chassis PCs. According to Ron Costa, Director of Console Operations, these consoles were "huge, but as the technology was able to scale down the size of the hardware, we were able to streamline our consoles and minimize the size requirements of the console bases." If your command center consoles are beginning to feel too large for your operation, it might be time to upgrade. Modernizing technology furniture allows operators to make better use of available floor space, potentially even increasing the capacity of operators within the same square foot area.
Even if you are not ready to replace your command center furniture entirely, Costa had some suggestions to make your current space look renewed by updating the aesthetics of existing consoles. "Adding new worktop, door, and end panel laminates can transform an outdated console with a modern look. With the addition of new monitor arms and convenience jacks, you can have a new operations center without having to replace the entire infrastructure of the consoles. We can leave the power and data cabling in place, which will save money and down time during the refresh."
It is never too early to begin planning an update for your current operations center space. Said Conover, "it's a good idea to start looking at options for a refresh before the components of the room reach 'end of life.'" In addition to our turnkey installation and systems integration, Constant offers a number of services to assist you in planning your operations center refresh. In order to help you visualize what your updated data center installation might look like, Constant can give site tours of recent projects. This is a great way to showcase new technology and modern control room console aesthetics and is also an opportunity tfor clients to talk to their peers about trends in mission critical operations center environments. Constant can also begin to develop design options free of cost to help visualize what can be improved in an updated space. Finally, Constant can help you develop a budget ot see what kind of captial will be necessary for an operations center refresh.
If your space fits any of the criteria above, contact us today for your free design consultation.
Constant Technologies, Inc. is a premier mission critical
systems integrator providing customized audio visual and video wall
and custom technology furniture and console furniture solutions across
the globe. With over 3
decades of experience, Constant's seasoned team has access to and
experience with sensitive environments in both the private and public
sectors, such as Cyber Defense and Homeland Security. Constant designs,
installs and services projects of all scopes to create operations center
furniture and video wall solutions with the highest levels of security,
aesthetics and functionality. Our team works within a range of
environments such as Network Operations Centers (NOC), Security
Operations Centers (SOC), Cyber Security Operations Centers (CSOC),
Emergency Operations Centers (EOC), Unified Command Centers (UCC),
Remote Operations Centers (ROC), Fleet Operations Centers, and
other mission critical spaces. As systems integrators, we pick and
choose from the best technologies to create a custom operations center
video wall and control room furniture installation that fits your needs.