This is Part 6 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series - Configuring a tunneler should be quick and easy.
How easy does the tunneler vendor make it to get started with their solution? It's important to consider what resources the vendor has made available to you to assist with setup and configuration. Resources such as videos, FAQs and technical support could mean the difference between your setup taking only minutes to that same setup taking hours or even days.
This blog post will outline some of the expectations you should have from a good tunnel vendor with respect to the resources they can provide to make your experience as user-friendly as possible, both now and in the future.
Before you commit to a specific OPC tunneling solution, you definitely will want to consider the engineering resources that will be needed to setup, configure and maintain that solution over its lifetime. It’s easy to forget but important to remember that you not only have to go through the initial setup/configuration process to get things working out of the gate, but that you’re also making a long-term investment in your system architecture that will certainly require some level of maintenance over time.
So, to that end, what sort of resources should you be expecting from a good vendor?
- Videos that walk you through the tunneler configuration step-by-step.
This is an ideal way to determine ease–of–use, as well as, giving you a ready resource to refer to both now and in the future as you work with the software. A comprehensive, well-organized video walking through the process is one of the best tools a vendor can provide for both new and existing users.
- A free demo version for download.
For the more “hands-on” among you, this makes it easy to take the solution for a test drive before making a commitment. And, depending on the limitations of the demo (i.e. time limited, functionality limited, etc.), you might even be able to get your setup working and proven before you ever have to purchase a license. Imagine how much easier that conversation with procurement would be if you can say that you already have it working.
- A knowledgeable and responsive phone support team to help you both before and after you’ve purchased the solution.
The importance of good tech support cannot be overstated. If you have a question or a problem and can’t get any help from the vendor, you might as well be alone in the wilderness with no water, food or shelter. A good vendor should make it easy for you to get to a person who has intimate knowledge of the product you’re using, including use cases. And it shouldn’t take days to get that help, either. Your time is money – if you have to wait over a day to get help from a vendor, especially if you’re in a critical downtime situation, that vendor is costing you money.
Now aside from the resources that a vendor provides, which are definitely a huge component of choosing a tunneling solution, there’s the actual process of configuring the solution. The walkthrough video and free demo mentioned earlier can go a long way towards determining just how easy or complex actually working with the solution will be for you.
Tunneling doesn’t have to take hours to configure. A well-designed solution that has taken ease-of-use in mind generally shouldn’t take more several minutes for the most basic system – obviously, a more complex architecture will likely take longer (such as a system where there are multiple nodes to be connected via tunnel, as opposed to a one-to-one architecture).
Before purchasing a tunneler, if you think about how easy or hard this solution is going to be both in the short and the long-term, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor. If you pick the right solution, the vendor will be your partner and make your job that much easier now and in the future. To reiterate from our other posts, choosing an effective tunneler that takes into account your application requirements will make a big difference in your operational effectiveness, resiliency, and profitability. Learn about the other reasons in the free whitepaper “25 Considerations when choosing a tunneling solution”.