Remote Power Management Made Simple

When a network element, such as a router or firewall, at a remote equipment rack suddenly decides to take an unscheduled vacation, often all it takes to get that router or firewall up and running again is a simple power reboot. “Simple” might not exactly be the right word to use here though; a power reboot is only “simple” if the router or firewall is located within easy reach, across the hall or in the building next door. If that troublesome router or firewall is located at an off-site data center or in a remote equipment rack several states away, then even a “simple” power reboot suddenly becomes a bit of a challenge … unless that distant equipment site includes a remote power management solution.

When a remote power management unit is installed at your off-site data center or remote equipment rack, then all power reboot operations are simple. The remote power management unit provides network administrators with a secure, reliable means to initiate power reboot cycles at remote network equipment sites without the need to travel to the site in person. In a typical installation, administrators can communicate with the remote power management unit via secondary/maintenance network, dial-up modem or satellite modem. After the remote power management unit verifies the identity of the administrator, all it takes are a couple of clicks on a web-based menu or a few simple ASCII commands and the remote power management unit will initiate a reboot cycle for any connected device.

In addition to providing remote reboot capabilities, the remote power management unit can also be helpful for administrators who need to power-off nonessential network devices during periods when they are not in use. High quality remote power management units often allow administrators to define schedules that determine when power to specific connected devices will be switched On or Off. This enables administrators to shut down network devices during time when they are likely to not be in use, and switch them back On later at a time when they are typically needed.

In addition to the manual switching and reboot discussed in the previous paragraphs, some full-featured remote power management products actually include the capability to monitor user-specified devices and then reboot them automatically when they are determined to be unresponsive. For example, some remote power management products include a ping response monitor or “ping-no-answer” alarm which can continually ping a network device at a user-defined IP address in order to check for a response to the ping command. If the device at the target IP address fails to respond to ping commands, the remote power management unit can then either automatically reboot the device at the target IP address, or notify administrators and other support personnel via text message, email, SNMP trap or SYSLOG message.

Although a power reboot often provides the most simple method for rebooting a malfunctioning network device, the task of rebooting a remote network element, located in an off-site network equipment rack is not always that simple. But when a full-featured remote power management unit with remote reboot capabilities is installed at the remote network equipment site, power reboots are always simple; even when the troublesome network element is located hundreds of miles away from the central office.

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