The Remote Reboot Switch – An Economical Way to Deal with Problems at Remote Equipment Racks

Often, problems with many network elements can be solved with a simple power reboot. While a power reboot is a relatively simple task to perform when the network element in question is located nearby, it can be a whole different game if a malfunctioning network element at a remote equipment rack, miles away from your office, needs to be rebooted. It’s wasteful and inefficient to send a service team on a long journey to reboot a network element at a remote site; in cases like this, the most practical solution is a remote reboot unit, installed at the remote equipment rack.

A remote reboot unit provides a secure, practical means to reboot critical network devices at remote equipment sites without the need for an actual human presence at the remote equipment rack. Generally, the remote reboot unit is installed at a remote equipment rack and then connected to the power supply (or power supplies) at the remote site. Next, power supply cables for network elements at the remote equipment rack are then connected to the remote reboot unit. When a situation arises where a device at the remote equipment rack needs to be rebooted, or simply switched On or Off, network support personnel can then establish a secure connection to the remote reboot unit via modem or secondary maintenance network and then use simple ASCII commands or user-friendly menus on the remote reboot unit to initiate a reboot cycle at the remote device without leaving the office.

In addition to providing remote power control capabilities for faraway network equipment racks, a high quality remote reboot unit will often include the ability to monitor environmental factors and noteworthy events at the remote site. Some full-featured remote reboot units provide monitoring, alarm and notification functions that allow administrators to keep track of temperature conditions, current usage, power supply stability, ping command response and other critical factors at the remote equipment rack. When unacceptably high temperatures, excessive current consumption, excessive invalid access attempts, failed ping commands and other issues are detected at the remote equipment rack, the remote reboot unit can then notify network support personnel via email, SNMP trap, SYSLOG message or text message in order to allow a prompt response to problems and events that could possibly be harmful to valuable network elements at the remote equipment rack.

Given the fact that the remote reboot unit provides these critical monitoring and power control functions, its important to make certain to choose a power reboot unit that includes adequate security and authentication features to prevent unauthorized users from accessing to these functions. A well-designed remote reboot unit should support both security features such as password protection and an IP address filter, as well as authentication protocols such as LDAP, Kerberos, TACACS+ and RADIUS. If a dial-up or satellite modem connection will be used to communicate with the remote reboot unit, then the remote reboot unit should also include features such as callback security, which ensures the identity of each potential user by disconnecting and then calling the user back at a predefined phone number before allowing access to command mode functions.

It’s a huge waste of both time and money to rely on service calls and truck rolls in order to perform simple power reboots at remote network equipment racks. An intelligently deployed remote reboot switch at an off-site equipment rack or data center allows network administrators to deal with many common problems at remote sites, without traveling to the site in person or sending out a service team to deal with the problem. This means that support personnel will be available at the central office to deal with more important problems, rather than constantly traveling from remote equipment rack to remote data center, just to switch power Off and On in order to get an uncooperative network element up and running again.

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