Why Do Most Large Corporate Networks Include an Out of Band Management Solution?

Sometimes, it almost seems like network equipment has a built-in, evil sense of humor; it always seems to crash at the time that you need it the most, and when it does crash, it’s never a box that’s located just down the hall, it’s always some router or server located two states away, in a remote equipment cabinet at the end of a long, unpaved road in the middle of nowhere. This doesn’t mean that network equipment always has the last laugh though; especially if your equipment rack includes an out of band management solution.

In most modern network facilities, out of band management usually involves a dedicated management channel that serves as a parallel to your primary network and exists mainly for the purpose of providing network engineers with an alternative means to contact remote equipment when the primary network is not available. Essentially, out of band management allows a network administrator to monitor and manage network devices, even when communication via the main network is not possible.

In many cases, network failures are often caused by extremely simple problems which can easily be fixed by a couple of command lines entered at a console port or even by a mere power reboot. Unfortunately, the same problems that caused the network to fail also make it impossible to communicate with network devices via normal channels in order to correct these problems. An intelligent out of band management solution essentially provides a secondary, back up network which ensures that support personnel will be able to communicate with critical network devices even when the primary network is down.

Typically, an out of band management solution consists of a secondary management network and other management devices, such as console servers or power reboot switches, that reside on the secondary network, yet provide command access and power management capabilities for servers, routers and switches that reside on the primary network. For example, in order to provide command access to a router on a crashed network, a console server is installed on the secondary network, and then connected to a vacant console port on the router on the primary network. When the primary network is not available, technicians can still log in to the console server and issued commands directly to the console port on the problematic router.

Likewise, in order to provide remote power reboot capability for a server on your primary network, a power reboot switch is installed on the secondary network, and power supply lines from the server are connected to the power reboot switch. When the primary network crashes, IT personnel can then log in to the power reboot device via the secondary network and reboot the server, without the requirement to travel to the installation site in order to manually initiate a power reboot.

When your primary network crashes or is not available, the supplementary capabilities of an out of band management solution allow administrators to continue to manage network devices without the presence of the primary network and without the need to access those network devices locally/manually. And if you’re the one who’s charged with the responsibility of making certain that your corporate network is always up and running, then it doesn’t take too many expensive service calls, ruined weekend plans and late night phone calls from panicked users to see the true value of an out of band management solution.

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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