GTE designed, procured and installed a communications test lab to support the Network Infrastructure Upgrade project which involved the replacement of end-of-life network switch infrastructure for a client’s process control network. The test lab was set up in GTE’s Perth office utilising the same hardware (Cisco IE4010, IE5000 & C9500 switches) that would be installed on site and allowed GTE to physically test each device, test their configuration, test their compatibility with other network equipment and test their integration into the existing network. To create an identical working environment for the new hardware and to ensure that all aspects could be tested fully, some of the infrastructure was created in a virtual environment to emulate the actual working environment on site.
GTE also purchased end-of-life and obsolete hardware to fully test and de-risk migration strategies — this included network equipment and PLCs. The lab was created to mirror (as close as possible) our client’s sites to reduce the risk of changeover and commissioning activities. The risk reduction was key to ensuring that any potential design flaws, software bugs and host incompatibility is identified and remediated well before any site commissioning activities takes place. This also avoids costly delays on site during time critical shutdown windows.
The other benefit of having the hardware in GTE’s lab is the ability to review the new end-of-life replacement functionality as this may include other improvements in terms of convergence, performance, licensing and cyber-security (such as device hardening and encryption). This should be considered not just to meet the current needs but to ensure the design and hardware is fit for purpose for the next five years to 10 years.