Why Does a Console Server Need Outbound SSH or Outbound Telnet Capabilities?

A console server that provides secure, remote access is key element in managing your network efficiently and effectively. What happens, though, when the router goes down and the console port cannot be accessed via IP? If your serial console server includes outbound SSH or outbound Telnet capabilities this provides yet another way to maximize up-time of network devices and to ensure that there will be less time when the network devices cannot be accessed.

Consider the following situation …

Let’s say that it’s about 5:30 am on a cold winter morning, and you receive an email from a console server connected to devices in your data center somewhere in Europe, notifying you that communication with the attached network switches has been lost. Before you even think about driving into the office, you must come up with a solution to get those units back online.

First, you try to log into the unit via Telnet, but you immediately discover that you cannot get in through the IP port because the external network at your facility is down completely. Without outbound SSH or outbound Telnet capabilities on your console server, all you’d be able to do at that point would be wait for the network to come back online; in the meantime, losing serious amounts of network up-time (a completely unacceptable solution.) Or, you could send service personnel to the remote facility to try and fix the problem in person (often a prohibitively expensive solution.)

But on the other hand, if your console server included outbound SSH and an internal modem, you would have the ability to dial into the console server’s modem, and then use reverse SSH to create an outbound connection via the network port and then use your internal network to access the troublesome network elements. In this case, you could manage your attached network devices remotely via a reverse SSH connection to your internal network via the IP port … even though the router may be down. This allows you to diagnose problems at the attached network devices and even fix them without even having to log in through an external IP.

Essentially, Reverse SSH provides an alternate means of command access, saving both time and money and maximizing network uptime.

For over 30 years, Western Telematic, Inc. (WTI) has been an innovator in the field of remote management for IT facilities. Our comprehensive product line includes a wide range of Serial Console Server products, Switched PDU products and Remote Reboot Switch products to provide secure, remote management of servers, routers and other devices.

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