US4™ is UTSI’s trademarked 24×7 service for operations centers with high availability network management and real-time control systems. US4™ can be implemented as an on-call support service or a complete outsourcing service. The US4™ support service program specifically concentrates on the software and systems that make up sophisticated operations control center facilities, and is designed to either augment, or possibly replace, an existing in-house engineering and support organization. UTSI’s control center outsourcing service includes the US4™ support program, but also provides a means by which all of the hardware and software components required by the facility are supplied, maintained and upgraded by UTSI’s experienced US4™ staff of professionals.

Each US4™ implementation is customized to meet the maintenance and support needs of the individual client. UTSI works with each of its clients to tailor a US4™ program to fit current needs, and we allow the program to adapt over time as future requirements dictate.

Proactive Monitoring   

US4™ provides proactive periodic monitoring of critical performance parameters of the host operating system and SCADA system to identify problems as they develop. By catching these problems early, they can be mitigated more quickly and more cost effectively than if they are left to fester for an extended period. Most importantly, the problems can be resolved before they cause serious operational problems that cause pipeline controllers and operational staff to lose confidence in the system.

Metrics – Tracking and Analysis of Trends   

Keeping metrics plus tracking and analysis of trends provides the backroom processing of the data collected by the Initial System Audit and the Proactive Monitoring. This is where the intelligence of US4™ resides and this provides the substance for any recommended action to mitigate problems are plan for a schedule upgrade of resources due to increased utilization.

Holistic Support   

UTSI’s US4™ support takes a holistic view of the customer’s entire SCADA system environment. This is in sharp contrast to all of the customer’s traditional support agreements, which naturally have a narrow view of the whole SCADA system environment. The SCADA product vendor is only concerned with how their software is running, third-party application providers are only concerned with their application, the operating system vendor is only concerned with how the OS is running, the hardware vendor is only concerned with the physical computer, etc. UTSI’s holistic approach encompasses all these systems to ensure they are all working together properly to satisfy the needs of the Control Center. Additionally, UTSI’s professional support team is available on a 24×7 on-call basis to respond to issues if and/when they occur.

Regulatory Compliance   

UTSI’s US4™ service includes monthly reports, which document the overall condition of the SCADA system on a regular basis. These reports contain overview summaries, trends of numerous resource utilizations, trouble ticket status, and lists of any outstanding issues. These monthly reports provide hard evidence to regulators that the customer cares about proper performance of its SCADA system and is confident it has the resources necessary to handle normal, abnormal and emergency situations, should they occur.

Initial System Audit (ISA)   

When UTSI signs up a new US4™ customer, or when an existing customer replaces or significantly upgrades their system, UTSI performs an Initial System Audit (ISA). The ISA documents the baseline state of the host operating system and SCADA system. Having this baseline state measured and documented is critical to accurately tracking any performance degradation or improvements over time as changes are implemented in the system. The baseline state along with the proactive monitoring allow for tracking short-term impacts and long term trends in performance that need to be addressed.

Logfile Evaluation and Analysis – Optional   

UTSI offers its Logfile Evaluation and Analysis (LEA) service using its LEA Tool (LEAT) as a value-added option to its standard US4™ service. LEAT provides a deeper look into the health and well-being of both the host operating system and SCADA system by evaluating and analyzing log files produced by the operating system and SCADA system. These log files can be quite voluminous and log entries are often cryptic and difficult for users to understand. Yet, log file entries can provide unique insight into developing problems. LEAT provides an automated method to review, evaluate, and analyze these log entries in a cost effective manner. LEAT reports identify messages that indicate known error conditions, and detects when a common condition (such as a communication outage) exceeds a fixed limit, or increases beyond historical norms, and also reports new errors. Included in the LEAT report is an explanation of the messages and how to correct or mitigate it. By catching problems early, the mitigation is easier, quicker, and cheaper while providing increased reliability and availability.

Display and Database Integrity – Optional   

UTSI offers this value-added service using its Display & Database Integrity Tool (DDIT) as an option to its standard US4™ service. DDIT provides an automated process to:

  • Check and verify all of the linkages between the SCADA database and the HMI displays.
  • Check for values that are outside valid ranges or do not meet the naming conventions specified by the customer.
  • Check for conditions that could indicate an error, such as a telemetered record that has not been updated within a specified time.

As an automated process, DDIT can be run on a regular basis providing the customer with a list of any problems to be corrected, more quickly and reliably than waiting for a human to notice something is wrong and then having SCADA system staff assigned to track down the problem.

SCADA Vendor Support vs. UTSI’s US4™ Support

The components of UTSI’s US4™ present a significant base of proactive information about your SCADA system and it’s associated components. As shown below, this is the differentiating factor between having just an adequate SCADA data center following traditional run-and-maintain philosophies offered by vendors, or a very well run and tuned SCADA environment leveraged by the power of UTSI’s US4™ proactive monitoring and ongoing support.

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