InformaCast Director Podcast Interview

Learn more about InformaCast Director, what is is and how it works, by listening to this short podcast with Ken Bywaters, Executive Vice President of Product Development from Singlewire Software.

Podcast

Transcript of the interview

Brad Parkel: Ken, do you want to talk about what InformaCast Director is?

Ken Bywaters: Sure. Most commonly, people think of Director as a command console or a management interface for any collection, one to many, collection of InformaCast servers that are out on the network.

Brad Parkel: And this is for InformaCast and InformaCast CK.

Ken Bywaters: Right. Both product families. Both InformaCast for a Cisco phone environment, and InformaCast CK for non-Cisco phone environments.

Brad Parkel: What will this product do?

Ken Bywaters: It is really actually fairly simple, but at the same time we’re not aware of anyone else doing this right now so it is new but the idea is you put the Director some location on your network and you can make all of your InformaCast servers visible to it. So there are a couple of ways people might use this. Number one, is a single organization that has InformaCast servers spread out across their network in a distributed manor. InformaCast Director can sit in the middle, see all of those servers, and the Director will communicate with any and all of them at any one time.

Brad Parkel: What would be an example of this? A school? Or a retail chain? Something like that?

Ken Bywaters: Both are very good examples. A school, retail, or even healthcare. We have a healthcare customer with over one hundred sites and they’re deploying InformaCast at each site. Individually, they have a very large network, but they want to keep the InformaCast traffic and control local to each site. So,they may be installing [InformaCast] on a server, they might be installing on a virtual machine, on an existing server, or a blade, an AXP blade from Cisco. Then in the middle, they’re putting Director so that they can make these [InformaCast servers] visible throughout the organization. For example, let’s say the health clinic in one city can do all of the routine paging within that facility. The central administration can talk to that facility running InformaCast Director can talk to that one facility and all the other facilities in the Western US, let’s say. All from InformaCast Director. And that has the advantage from a management perspective, but also, they don’t need to pass multicast over their wide area network (WAN). It’s a simple, very small, unicast message out to each server, and then each InformCast server takes it and converts it and it’s multicast from there. So the multicast traffic stays on the LAN, but it’s very clean from a WAN perspective.

Brad Parkel: So, what we’re talking about here is a regional notification, or a company-wide notification, where InformaCast servers are spread out.

Ken Bywaters: We do that today in a centralized model. People put InformaCast servers centrally and then send to all locations from there. But with Director, it allows people to do it, to deploy in a distributed architecture, but tie everything centrally with Director. So that’s exactly right within a single company, a single organization allowing the Director to tie together a distributed architecture into a centralized one.

Brad Parkel: Now this would also have a regional impact if there were InformaCast servers within a community, at a hospital, at a school, with a public safety director or a county government or city government. One button could send out the message across all of those agencies.

Ken Bywaters: Yes. Exactly. This has the potential to be revolutionary in the way notification is done. Because you could take that same concept for notifying everyone within a single organization to notifying an entire region. Just as you said. Let’s use an example of a UASI, a local or a regional security center. They could run the [InformaCast] Director and then talk to all the InformaCast servers in that region. And that can be hospitals, schools, businesses, anything. Let’s just take Honolulu for an example. We’ve got somewhere around 20 different customers in Honolulu. There’s a collection of banks, defense facilities, schools, hospitals, all kinds of things. Now, if they had a need to send out a regional notification, which there are, even though Honolulu is paradise, there are things they need to know about. Whether it’s volcanic activity or tsunami or anything like that. So there might be a need to notify all those organizations. So, the Director allows a third party to send out a message to all those InformaCast customers on the island and notify them of something. So that really regionalizes the notification. That same concept could be applied to any region anywhere you would need to get a regional notification to existing [overhead] paging systems. And that’s not what’s being done today. Because in a traditional analog notification, there are no means to get that message out to that system, let alone organize it regionally.

Brad Parkel: And we should stress here, this is an on-network notification, so you’re hitting inside the organization and then also have the ability to go outside to email, sms, that sort of thing.

Ken Bywaters: Right. Exactly. There are some regional notification methods that are off-network; outbound dialer, sms, things like that, but still, those are centralized to one product. Where as this is everything is done on the network and activating existing on-network notification systems and InformaCast and carrying it out from there.

Brad Parkel: Ok. To this point where have you seen the interest coming from? Has it been public safety? Has it been organizations or a combination of the two?

Ken Bywaters: It’s been a combination of the two, but more [interest] from a single organization, because that’s what people are used to. So, the cases we’ve mentioned, schools, healthcare, retail, and then county government. Those are the ones that are most interested because those are the ones that are deploying InformaCast in a distributed model today. So, they have an immediate need for Director, but we are talking to the people that control the regional notification, or a community notification network. So, I think that will be the next phase of interest.

Brad Parkel: Now, if someone is listening to this, how is this implemented is probably the common question people are going to ask? How do I know who’s around us that may be able to take advantage of this.

Ken Bywaters: Well, the Director is just software, so you can install it the same way you install InformaCast, whether it’s on your own server or in a virtual machine in something like that. If you are your own organization, you already know where those InformaCast servers are. If you’re a regional center, most of them have a way to communicate with businesses under their control anyway, and we also bring those people together. I was at a meeting last week with a county government. They brought in other companies and agencies and things like that into the meeting, because those people want to know what’s going on in the county anyway. What technologies, etc. In a lot of locations the local government operates very closely with the population of the region, businesses, so it’s kind of a natural fit. And in that case the county would run [InformaCast] Director, and any business in the county may want to participate in those county-wide alerts. It is up to them, but the county can run the Director and then the others can subscribe to the notifications.

Brad Parkel: And there’s some set-up involved with the InformaCast server to say which messages could be distributed. Isn’t that the case?

Ken Bywaters: Yes. You have complete control of that. You can limit the Director’s access to certain messages or certain groups, things like that. Just like you could if you were using InformaCast stand alone. So you can limit that access, you’re not giving the Director control to do anything they want, you may just tell it “only send this particular emergency message, only to this group” if you’d like. It’s as granular as you’d like.

Brad Parkel: So, severe weather, that sort of thing might be a candidate for opening it up, whereas another type of alert would be restricted.

Ken Bywaters: Right. And the Director does not only do pre-recorded messages, but also LIVE messages. It can be audio and/or text.

Brad Parkel: Explain that real quick. If there’s an event, someone could log into Director, record something, and then send that out?

Ken Bywaters: Right. Audio and/or text. And then send it out to all the InformaCast servers on the network that they’re subscribed to.

Brad Parkel: If you’re interested in learning more about InformaCast Director, you can visit us at www.singlewire.com/director. On the site, we’ve got a one minute overview video, downloadable documentation about the product and a form where you can request additional information or order the product.

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