Out of Band Management via Dial-Up

These days, when network administrators talk about “out of band management,” they’re usually talking about a serial console server, coupled with a secondary, maintenance network that works in parallel with the main network and serves to provide maintenance access when the main network is down. For the most part, that’s usually the case, but there are also cases where “out of band management” refers to a serial console server that can be accessed via a dial-up connection when network communication is not available.

In many cases, dial-up out of band management is the preferred method for maintaining small, remote site applications. Often, the location of these smaller sites results in a situation where network connections may be impractical, while dial-up, phone line connections are easily accessible. So if a network administrator needs to access a device at one of these smaller, remote sites in order to change configuration or reboot a router, the only choice is dial-up.

For the most part, dial-up out of band management offers all of the capabilities that are available via a network connection. One prominent difference though, is that most network security and authentication protocols are not available via dial-up. This challenge is easily met though; WTI serial console servers include a convenient “dial-back security” function that provides security for remote devices even when a network connection is not available. When dial-back security is enabled, users who dial-in to the WTI serial console server are not granted immediate access to command functions; instead, the serial console server first prompts the caller to enter a username and password, then disconnects and calls the user back at a phone number that has been predefined for the user account. After the user receives and answers the dial-back call, the password prompt can be displayed a second time, and if the user then enters a valid password, they are then allowed to access command functions.

In addition, WTI serial console servers can also be configured to log access by dial-up users, creating an audit trail which tracks command activity, port access and other functions. The combination of dial-back security and access logging allows network administrators to be certain that invalid users are kept out of command functions and verify that only valid users have accessed critical serial console server functions.

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 allow you to securely manage and troubleshoot rack equipment in remote locations.

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