A Good Serial Switch Can Do More than Provide Out of Band Access

When most network administrators hear the phrase, “serial switch,” they will generally think of an out of band management unit that provides alternative access to vital network elements when communication via the main network is unavailable. But in addition to providing a channel for secure, reliable out of band management, often, a full featured serial switch product can also serve double duty in helping with the task of collecting error messages and other data collected from attached network devices.

When a serial switch product includes the ability to configure serial ports for buffer mode, the serial switch can collect data messages, status messages and other data generated by attached devices, and then either immediately forward that data to network administrators, store data for later retrieval, or automatically notify the appropriate personnel that data is ready for retrieval. With an intelligently designed serial switch, there is no need to use the same communication parameters for each attached device; the serial switch automatically converts and stores all data received, regardless of differing baud rates, parity and other communication factors.

Once data is received and stored by the serial switch, it can be relayed to the appropriate destination using common protocols such as SNMP trap or SYSLOG message. In other cases, the serial switch is configured to store received data, and then automatically generate an alarm message when the amount of data stored reaches a user-defined threshold value. This type of capability comes in very handy in any application that requires the collection of status messages, error reports and other data generated by remote network devices. Many high quality serial switch units also include the ability to time and date stamp each data item as it is received; a feature that often proves very useful in cases where collected data is used to diagnose conditions in network equipment racks, or to track specific events.

A high-quality, intelligently designed serial switch can do a whole lot more than just provide out of band management access to remote network devices. In addition to the valuable out of band access capabilities that a serial switch can provide for response to network emergencies, many serial switch products also include other powerful tools that are designed to simplify the task of managing remote network equipment, and keeping network administrators better informed regarding conditions and events at remote network equipment racks and off-site data centers.

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