Out of Band Management – The Fastest Way to Correct Problems with Remote Network Devices

Computer networks offer an extremely practical and convenient means to allow many different users to access commonly used functions such as email, inventory programs, file servers and etc. But unfortunately, a network is only as strong as it’s weakest link. This means that if a firewall or a switch crashes, then all across your organization, users are suddenly locked out of the network functions that they depend upon in order to complete day-to-day tasks.

Obviously, in a world that depends on network communication, this means that large networks must include some sort of means to quickly correct any problems that might arise; these days, it has become increasingly common for networks to rely on an out of band management solution in order to make certain that network capabilities are always available when users need them.

Although most modern network devices already include features that are specifically designed to allow them to recover after a crash, in most cases, the only way to activate these features is to invoke a command at the devices’ console port. Normally, accessing a console port would not be a problem. But if your network is down, then the only solutions are either to travel to the remote network equipment site in person, just to connect to a console port and key in a command, or make certain that your network infrastructure includes an out of band management solution that allows remote access to console ports when the main network is down.

For example, most Linux boxes include a command that can be invoked to put the device into hibernation mode, allowing you to put a device “to sleep” when it’s not needed, and then bring it back up again when it’s needed again. This essentially restarts the operating system, often solving many minor glitches that can occur with network equipment. Accessing the console port on the Linux box to invoke this command is no problem when your network is up and running, but its quite a different matter when the network is down and the only way to access command mode is via local connection to the console port.

Likewise, many switches include commands that allow the switch to perform a self-diagnostic routine or restart with default configuration. This sort of command is extremely helpful when attempting to get a network up and running again, but the only problem is that when the network is down, you need to be physically present at the installation site in order to access the console port and invoke the proper command.

The advantage of an out of band management solution (whether based on a secondary maintenance network or accessed via dial-up,) is that it allows you to remotely access console ports on malfunctioning devices without physically traveling to the site where the device is installed. This saves time and helps minimize network down time, but also saves money by reducing the need to send tech personnel off on road trips to remote equipment sites.

An out of band management solution ensures that you will always have a means to remotely access console ports on network devices in order to correct problems that have halted network communication. This means that regardless of what has caused your main network to malfunction, you’ve still got a secondary, back-up means to remotely address problems and get your network back up and running without unreasonable delays.

Western Telematic, Inc. (WTI) designs and manufactures remote device management products for IT applications. WTI’s Serial Console Server products, Remote Reboot products, Switched PDU products and A/B Fallback products are engineered to provide secure, out of band management solutions in order to allow you to manage and troubleshoot rack equipment in remote locations, even when the main network is not available.

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