Boring Toolbox Speeds System Health Check & Generates Compliance Reports
Last year Jacob Onstad took a business trip to Nemours Children’s Hospital in Florida, in his role as a field services engineer for Milestone Systems. At Nemours, technology plays a large part in their health system services.
“When we’re doing system health checks for customers, the first step is information-gathering — about the whole system, the architecture, the storage, the cameras, everything. After that we go through and run compliance and load-testing on all the servers and the storage. We’re looking for errors, inconsistencies, variations from best practices — anything that stands out,” Onstad said.
Nemours is a multi-site organization using Milestone’s XProtect Corporate video management software (VMS) to monitor many different aspects of their operations in non-traditional ways. This includes a number of integrations that help the hospital improve facility efficiency, lower operational costs, and deliver a safe, pleasant and healthful patient experience.
Now working with more than 1,800 network cameras, the hospital uses video for monitoring people and assets, security and situational awareness throughout the interior and exterior of the facilities. Over the last eight years the hospital and its systems have nearly tripled in size, including the integrations with different devices and technologies.
Onstad performed a massive system health check for Nemours to ensure optimal performance. He used a dedicated solution that vastly simplifies the tedious parts of administration and maintenance for XProtect installations named the Boring Toolbox. It was created by a Milestone Gold Technology Partner called the Boring Lab.
“The awesome thing about the Boring Toolbox — the way that it really helped for this large installation — is it has a dashboard where you can very quickly look at problem areas on the system: which recording servers are running out of storage, which cameras are using the most storage, and similar usage or warnings. You can quickly create camera groups that help you do fast bulk configuration and reporting. It cut the time required in half,” he said.
The Boring Toolbox newest Version 4 added multi-site management, which manages all the C-code versions of XProtect management servers, regardless of how they’re connected to one another. They could be federated, they could be interconnected, they could just be separate sites by the same customer; or it can be an integrator managing multiple sites for different customers. The Boring Toolbox then takes all of that data, like the live data on the system health, and turns it into a global dashboard, which can see all the sites on one “pane of glass.”
Ronen Isaac, CEO at Boring Lab explained: “Each site will be color-coded based on the site health. If it’s green, everything is good. If it’s red, we have either a recording server down or some cameras down. And if it’s gray, it means that it’s either a disconnected site altogether, or potentially just initializing and gathering the data. From that dashboard, we also provide a global camera status report with a lot of other information: IP address, camera name, camera brand, camera model, which management server, recording server, everything in a nice filterable Excel spreadsheet – perfect for maintenance or reporting to customers.”
Since the Boring Toolbox is integrated so deeply with Milestone, the solution supports most camera brands and models that Milestone software does. Milestone’s Device Packs are released bi-monthly with new models — to date more than 8,500.
“So we’re pulling a lot of that data from Milestone. We also have a component of the toolbox that interacts directly with some top camera manufacturers’ hardware directly: Axis, Hanwha, Bosch, Sony, Arecont. The Boring Toolbox interacts with those specific device APIs, but at least in this release, most of the data is mined from different parts of Milestone and presented to the system admin in an easy-to-consume format — no data scientist needed,” Ronen explained.