Keeping Track of Endpoints

For those of you who support more than one videoconference unit, how do you keep track of it all?

I’ve tried:

  • Excel spreadsheet
  • Filemaker Pro database
  • A tiny chart printed and kept on my desk

I’ve had info in three places before and am trying to consolidate. What best practice tips do you all have out there?

The type of information I’m keeping includes:

  • Contact info for the people involved
  • Serial numbers
  • Software revision
  • History of trouble tickets
  • History of issues/problems
  • IP and gatekeeper alias
  • In some cases endpoint LAN settings

How do you stay organized? Please comment!

24 replies on “Keeping Track of Endpoints”

    • Janine Lim says:

      Believe it or not, Ryan, I have TMS! I just have had the box off for three years because of how it randomly assigns conferences and my need for a simple IP dial in. But next week we’re reviving the box and getting some new training so that will hopefully help.

      I don’t think it will let me keep track of my own notes on the endpoints though, will it?

  1. David Eiri says:

    As part of my former job, I managed over 430 endpoints. There are no easy answers. I’m available to discuss over phone or email what I have implemented or attempted.

  2. Eric Henderson says:

    I have been involved in the videoconferencing industry for more years than I care to admit to and have worked with both Fortune 50 companies as well as smaller organizations just starting out with video. I have seen a number of solutions from visio’s and excell spreadsheets as well as free online solutions. There are many variable to take into consideration. If you care to discuss, I can be reached at 860-608-6088

  3. Cheryl Tice says:

    A Google Spreadsheet might be a good place for that kind of info as long as you’re not looking for fancy reports. That way, you can access it anywhere you have internet access on a mac or pc.

    You could create a Google Form for others involved in the connections to use to fill in some of the info on your spreadsheet themselves. Then you could add additional information as needed on the corresponding Google Spreadsheet.

    I just made a very rough sample form and then added some headings on the corresponding spreadsheet, using some of the categories you had in your post. Here’s the link for both:

    http://tinyurl.com/mj9zfq (form) and

    http://tinyurl.com/mc5a8k (corresponding spreadsheet)…

    Hope this makes sense! And I hope it’s helpful! 🙂

  4. Would like to understand a little more about your network and the endpoints that you have. Please give me a call if you can 800-454-4482 Ext 380

  5. Scott Muller says:

    Janine,

    I’m not sure what you define as a unit, but here at Polycom we produce a great management app called CMA that provides most of the information above. Items 1,2,3, 6, and 7 are managed and available real time. The box also acts as a gatekeeper and as such can be used to control calls and manage topology.

    We use JIRA to track the defect information, whether for calls or eps( your items 5 and 6) or the product. The JIRA system also handles our RMAs for hardware issues.

    Many issues we experience at customer sites are related to ep errors, network or configuration, we have not had requests to track this (items 6 and 7) information internally within the management product, mainly because defect tracking and issues normally go though support and are routed to various owners of the equipment and each requires different access control, work flow and approvals.

    Within the CMA system, the device is associated with a user or room and all related infor. like site, location, contact, etc. All of this is collected by the system. The app also takes care of managing your bridge resources, call records, ep software updates and ep provisioning. The box is licensed from a couple hundred registered devices to 5000.

    We have found that by actively manage our eps and pushing software updates/changes out to the field as needed, we keep everyone on the same page, based on endpoint type of course. Our new ep versions actually will check for the latest software rev and download it on their own. Most eps are managed by the IT dept. except the select few of us who work on the product day to day (we get to be evil!!). This keeps people from horking their unit by trying strange settings etc.

    Of course the management app does much more than this, however I thought I would just address your questions.

    I don’t know if this helps at all, but I thought I would offer it up.

    Regards,
    ~Scott, Sr. Staff CMA Team

    • Janine Lim says:

      Scott, thanks for the detail, for me and for my readers. It does sound like the management suite is a good way to manage a lot of units. Do you know if you can write notes about the endpoints anywhere?

      At first glance, the idea of the endpoint automatically getting its updates sounds really cool. But then I remember years with a bunch of Read Around the Planet calls not happening because someone just upgraded their bridge and now the calls don’t work. That feature could be turned off right? I hope! 🙂

      Thanks again for the detailed comment!

      Janine

  6. Sylvain Girard says:

    If you have some web developers in your team, they can make you a simple internal page with a simple database to let have more control than with spreadsheet (it´s easier to use too).

    However, if you have money, I strongly suggest you to go to a management suite. The more complete one is the TANDBERG Management Suite (TMS) which can recognize other devices too (Polycom, Sony, etc.). Polycom has his Global Management System, but I don’t know if it supports other part devices.

    Basically, a management suite is basically the same idea than the little internal website I told you, but it gives you so much more. You can upgrade software, you can see in real time the status of your endpoints, you can establish security policies, bandwidth policies, and more.

    You have the possibility to go (for example) to the AMX Resource Management Suite. They are specialized in automation, so the suite can control an amazing range of devices (audio, flatscreens, LCD screen, IO relays, etc.). They can do some little things with the videoconference units too. I think Crestron doesn´t have such a thing (Please, any Crestron specialist to confirm/infirm me!!!).

    Hope it helps you

    • Janine Lim says:

      Sylvain – thanks for the comment and overview of the other management systems. I didn’t realize AMX had one too….

      I did have a Filemaker Pro database that worked pretty well until I upgraded and couldn’t figure out how to get a text box to edit. I write a lot of notes about the units during the school year – settings to change, stuff to fix, issues to address with the district techs in the summer and need to have that in one place.

  7. Jeff Wilson says:

    Hi Janine,
    I have to agree with Ryan. Tandberg’s TMS suite is very powerful! Of course you can create endpoint profiles and easily schdule and book conferences, but some other key capabilities include graphical monitoring, individual system status, trouble ticket generation and tracking, diagnostic messages, centrally managed phone books, CDR, ROI, and usage statistics. And it works with Polycom units as well. I think you can still download a trial copy from their website. Give it a try, and good luck!
    BTW, I DO NOT work for Tandberg. :<)

  8. Joel Swerdlow says:

    Yes ….there is no easy way to track all of your requirements.

    I used Excel for my day to day use. You can set up macros for your searches or the filter option.

    You also could set up a second work book to track issues, then link the two files to gether so that you can search for the address’s etc and then use the linked file for the issues.

    TMS, Path Nav. etc are all good products however there is no one application to track all of your items…that I know of.

    The easiest and most economical is the Excel appliction, of course you should be familiar with the operation.

    The next step could be to create your own data base with MS ACCESS…another economical way, but much more complicated the EXCEL.

  9. Linda McDonald says:

    I’m actually contemplating this right now as our position has recently been redefined. I’m thinking about trying Google Docs….

    I have several contacts that I can share the info. with (tech guy, and prof. dev’t contact).

    I can create a Google Docs form (kind of new, I’ve heard) to have the campus contact complete for me.

  10. Mark O'Campo says:

    Janine,

    I would like to hear a little more about your requirements as far as endpoints and the inclusion of your possible directory services. You can call me at 714-901-1456 x213.

  11. Hi Janine,

    We do a combination of excel spreadsheets that are uploaded and shared through Google Docs. I prefer Docs but that does not always fit everyone’s preferences including my boss so we have to do both.

    Seeing that we do not use a GateKeeper and each endpoint has their own static to public IP we keep all of the internal network configs and the Public IP numbers.

    Some things I would like to add are contact numbers and room locations for the systems hiding places. I always feel odd asking “now where is your IVC system”.

    • Janine Lim says:

      Good point on where the system is! I had that info on my old database, but didn’t move it over to my new system because I haven’t looked at it in a while. But now that you reminded me, I think I’ll get that info into my master sheet too….

  12. Aaron Wu says:

    When I was working at Tandberg, TMS has a function under Systems-Systems Overview. This will allow you to view system name, serial number, option keys and many other parameters. On the bottom of the page you can click on “Export to Excel” and save a softcopy.

  13. Hi Janine,
    Bounce me an email evan @ avikom no for more information as we have been working on a dynamic platform that allows easy tracking of systems, via location etc… It matters not if it is Tandberg, Polycom, LSize or xxxx (team china). I would love to discuss further with you.

  14. Ryan,

    I would be very interested in finding out if you got a good, cost efficient, solution to your problem. This is something I have struggled with for years. We are a small shop but have multiple endpoints with different types of IP and ISDN (still) connectivity. Tracking and managing these units is very problematic without spending, what I consider, big bucks for a vendor’s management system. Shoot me an e-mail at geoff.honaker@seahec.net if you have had success.

  15. R. Olsen says:

    I’m using the free Conference catalog service from http://www.easymeeting.net to keep track on my systems. I even got a gatekeeper registration with 6 digit number for each system.

  16. Lindita Bleta says:

    LifeSize seems pretty interesting. I would love to try it in my classroom.

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