Serial Console Servers Simplify Management of Remote Network Equipment Sites

A serial console server provides network administrators with many valuable capabilities that can help simplify the process of managing remote network equipment and monitoring conditions at remote network installation sites. When paired with a secondary/maintenance network or modem, a serial console server also provides an out of band management solution that allows access to remote network elements when communication via your main network is not an option.

Basically, a serial console server allows administrators to access console port command functions on remote devices, check rack temperature and other environmental factors at remote sites, monitor connected devices to make certain that they are operating properly and generate alarms when critical, user-defined conditions are detected at remote network installations. A serial console server provides a secure, reliable means to perform basic troubleshooting, diagnostic and maintenance tasks at remote network sites without the need for the administrator to travel to the remote site in person.

If your network infrastructure includes both a main/user network and a secondary/maintenance network, the serial console server can be installed on the secondary network in order to allow remote access to vital network elements when the main network is down. This capability can prove extremely handy, especially in cases where a network failure has been caused by a problem with a remote network element. When a secondary network is available, a serial console server allows administrators to establish an out of band connection with a remote device in order to perform reconfiguration or troubleshooting functions needed to get the remote device (and main network) back up and running again without an expensive, time consuming service call to the remote site.

In the absence of a secondary network, a dial-up or satellite modem can also be used to establish an out of band connection with a serial console server at a remote site. This allows network administrators to access the same console port command functions that would be available via secondary network. In addition, a serial console server can also be contacted via modem in cases where the nature or location of the remote network site makes network communication via cable prohibitively expensive or impractical. Network administrators can dial in to the serial console server and then access the local area network at the remote site in order to collect data, check unit status, fix problems or change configuration parameters.

A serial console server also simplifies the task of keeping tabs on conditions and events at remote network equipment sites. The serial console server can be set up to monitor rack temperature, ping response, power abnormalities, loss of communication, invalid access attempts and other events, and provide prompt notification via SNMP, email, text message or SYSLOG message when suspect conditions are detected. In addition, a serial console server can also log alarm events, temperature trends, user activity and factors and store that data for later retrieval and review by network administrators and other IT personnel.

When managing a remote network equipment site, it’s extremely important for network administrators to have out of band management capabilities available. A serial console server can provide a secure, reliable, centralized interface for out of band communication and also allow administrators to keep track of environmental conditions at other events at remote network sites, without the need to travel to the site in person.

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