A Remote Power Switch Should do More than Simple Reboot Operations

Most network administrators already know that a remote power switch (http://www.wti.com/c-1-power-reboot-switches.aspx) can be used to control power reboot and switching functions at remote network equipment sites, but sometimes, administrators need more functionality than simple remote power reboots. A well designed, full featured remote power switch should be able to do more than just provide remote reboot and power control capabilities; a good remote power switch should also be able to monitor rack temperature, current consumption, power supply instability and other factors at remote network equipment installation sites.

In addition to saving time and money by providing reboot capabilities for remote network elements, a remote power switch should also support the ability to monitor environmental factors and events at remote network equipment sites and also provide prompt operator notification when environmental conditions and suspect events are detected. These capabilities help to provide administrators with a much clearer picture of exactly what’s going on at offsite data centers and remote equipment racks, without the need to constantly send technicians to these sites in order to check for potential harmful conditions and events.

Ideally, a remote power switch should include user-configurable monitoring and alarm functions that enable administrators to keep tabs on critical factors at the remote network equipment site, such as high temperatures, excessive current consumption, suspicious invalid access attempts, open circuit breakers and other determinants that could indicate potential trouble ahead. Monitoring and alarm functions should allow administrators to define specific thresholds and conditions that will initiate an alarm, and alarms should also include the ability to notify administrators and tech support personnel via popular communication protocols such as email, text message, SNMP trap and SYSLOG message.

In cases where current consumption rises beyond acceptable limits at a remote network equipment site, it’s also helpful if the remote power switch includes the ability to automatically shut off nonessential devices in order to ensure that enough current is available for critical devices such as servers and routers. This type of feature is often referred to as “load shedding” and can often be found on high quality remote power switch products.

It can also be helpful if the remote power switch supports the ability to ping user selected devices at the remote equipment site, and then automatically reboot devices that cease to respond to ping commands. Often, this enables the remote power switch to correct minor equipment problems by itself, without operator intervention, before users or administrators even notice that a particular network device is down. In some cases, this ability to automatically reboot devices based on response to ping commands is called a “ping-no-answer alarm” or simply a ping response monitor.

The principle purpose of any remote power switch is to simplify the responsibilities of the network administrators and reduce maintenance costs by providing a means to control power and reboot functions at offsite data centers and remote equipment racks without the need for constant tech support visits to the remote site. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that the remote power switch should also be able to monitor conditions at the remote site, and in some cases, automatically reboot or power off malfunctioning devices in order to further reduce the expenses and hassles associated with managing offsite network equipment.

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