The Linux Powered Console Server – An Out of Band Management Solution for Remote Network Equipment

In many cases, the most challenging aspect of managing devices located at remote data centers or equipment racks is the very fact that those remote network elements are not easy to get to. Minor routine maintenance tasks, such as restarting a malfunctioning network device or making quick configuration tweaks, take on a completely different level of complexity due to the fact that the device in question is located so far away from the central office. A Linux powered console server ( is designed to simplify the task of managing remote network elements by providing a simple, effective way to access command functions on remote devices, even when communication via your main network is not available.

A Linux powered console server provides network administrators with a secure, reliable out of band management tool that can be used to invoke console port commands on remote network elements without the need to actually travel to the site where the network element is installed. In most applications, the Linux powered console server is first cable connected to console ports on target devices, and remote network administrators then use either a secondary maintenance network or a modem connection to communicate with those target devices via the Linux powered console server. Once a network or modem connection with the Linux powered console server is established, administrators can then communicate with any attached network element in order to review device status, change configuration parameters or restart device operating systems.

In addition to providing out of band communication with remote devices, many Linux powered console servers also include monitoring, alarm and notification capabilities that can be used to provide network administrators with a clearer picture of conditions at the remote network equipment rack. High quality Linux powered console servers often include the ability to monitor temperature readings in remote equipment racks, detect power supply instability at the remote site and recognize network elements that have ceased to respond to ping commands. Ideally, these monitoring and alarm functions allow administrators to define specific conditions and threshold values that will generate alarm notification, and then select appropriate personnel who will receive notification in the event that an alarm is triggered. Full featured Linux powered console server products typically allow alarms to be sent via a variety of popular communication protocols, including email, text message, SNMP trap and SYSLOG message.

In order to protect console port command functions from unauthorized access, it’s vital that the Linux powered console server includes robust security features, plus multiple authentication protocols. Security features such as password protection and an IP address filter, coupled with authentication protocols such as LDAP, Kerberos, TACACS+ and RADIUS help to ensure that console port command functions on vital network elements are adequately protected from unauthorized users and safe from hackers and others who might attempt to gain access.

A Linux powered console server provides network administrators with a reliable means to address problems and monitor conditions at remote network equipment racks, and helps to eliminate many types of expensive service calls that would otherwise be required as a part of routine maintenance and management of remote network devices. A full featured Linux powered console server, intelligently deployed at a remote equipment rack, provides network administrators with the ability to communicate with remote network elements, even when communication via the main network is out of the question. The out of band management capabilities that are made possible by a Linux powered console server are the ideal tool for network administrators who need to both maximize network uptime and minimize service call expenses to remote network equipment sites and off-site data centers.

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