A Console Terminal Server Should do More than Just Provide Out of Band Management

Most network administrators are fairly familiar with the concept of using a console terminal server to provide secure, reliable out of band management capabilities for offsite data centers and remote network equipment racks. It’s widely accepted that the out of band communication capabilities provided by a console terminal server can help to maximize uptime and cut maintenance costs for remote network equipment, but in addition to providing an avenue for out of band management, a full featured console terminal server product that includes monitoring and alarm capabilities can also help administrators to be kept better informed regarding conditions at distant network equipment installation sites.

A well designed console terminal server that supports monitoring and alarm functions can help administrators to keep closer tabs on remote network equipment, and provide prompt notification when conditions such as high temperatures, excessive invalid access attempts and power supply problems are detected at the remote network equipment site. If the console terminal server includes a ping response monitor (or “ping-no-answer” alarm), then the console terminal server can also notify administrators and support personnel when devices at the remote site cease to respond to ping commands; an extremely useful capability for any administrator who’s responsible for heavily used network devices located at remote sites that might otherwise be difficult to monitor.

When properly configured and enabled, a console terminal sever with a ping response monitor will regularly ping devices at user-specified IP addresses, and check to make certain that each target IP address responds to the ping command. If a device fails to respond to a ping from the console terminal server, the console terminal server can immediately notify administrators and other relevant personnel via email, text message, SYSLOG message or SNMP trap, allowing administrators and support personnel to promptly investigate the unresponsive device, and take corrective measures in order to get the device back online again. In many cases, a ping response monitor can enable administrators to correct problems with remote network devices before users even notice that a pinged device has gone down.

Ideally, the ping response monitor should provide configuration options that enable administrators to select the number of failed ping responses required to generate an alarm, select an action to be performed when a ping response alarm is generated and determine whether or not the ping response monitor will provide additional notification when a target IP address resumes response to ping commands. The console terminal server should also allow administrators to designate multiple personnel who will receive notification when a ping response alarm is generated, and provide a means to select an appropriate notification protocol for each alarm recipient.

A well-designed, high quality console terminal server should be able to do a whole lot more besides just provide out of band management access for remote network equipment. In addition to supporting vital out of band management functions, a console terminal server should also provide tools that provide the network administrator with a clearer picture of conditions and events at the remote network equipment site and also provide notification when devices at the remote site become unresponsive. A console terminal server with a ping response monitor can help to improve the reliability of your offsite network equipment applications, by providing immediate notification when important devices at the remote site decide to take a temporary vacation.

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