Remote Power Management Units – Faster and More Economical than a Service Call

When a critical network element at an offsite data center or remote network equipment site suddenly locks up and disrupts communication, the last thing you want to do is send a tech team out to the site to deal with the troublesome device in person. Sure, a service call is often the most obvious solution, but service calls are also time consuming and expensive. A much better solution for dealing with unresponsive devices at distant network equipment sites, is to install a remote power management unit at the site, that allows you to reboot locked up devices without the expense of a service call or the time that is wasted while waiting for the service team to travel to that offsite data center or remote equipment rack.

A remote power management unit provides a faster and more economical means for dealing with locked up equipment located in faraway equipment racks, and also helps administrators to be kept better informed regarding noteworthy conditions and events at the remote site. When a remote power management unit is installed at your offsite data center or remote equipment cabinet, crashed servers and locked-up routers can be dealt with quickly and efficiently … even when normal network communication with remote equipment is unavailable or offline. Instead of sending a service team out to deal with a problem at a remote site, administrators can quickly contact the remote power management unit via network or dial-up connection, and then invoke simple commands to reboot unresponsive servers or routers, in less time than it takes your service team to load their equipment into the truck.

In addition to remote reboot capabilities, remote power management units also offer an impressive array of effective tools that simplify the process of managing power at offsite data centers and distant equipment cabinets, and help to keep administrators better informed regarding conditions at the remote site. For example, high end remote power management units often include power scheduling capabilities that allow administrators to set up schedules to automatically switch Off non-essential devices during periods of low use, or switch On equipment such as cooling systems during parts of the day when temperatures can be expected to rise. If the remote power management switch includes a ping response monitor (or “ping-no-answer” alarm), then the remote power management unit can regularly ping devices at user-defined IP addresses, checking for a valid response and then automatically reboot devices that fail to respond to ping commands.

Monitoring and alarm capabilities enable a remote power management switch to constantly check for conditions such as high rack temperatures, excessive invalid access attempts, power supply instability and other factors and then immediately notify network administrators when conditions exceed user-defined threshold values. When potentially hazardous conditions are detected, a good remote power management switch can immediately notify the appropriate personnel via email, text message, SNMP trap or SYSLOG message, allowing prompt response to situations that could possibly disrupt network communication.

In order to protect access to these powerful control and monitoring functions, a remote power management unit should include adequate security and authentication tools to prevent access by unauthorized users. In addition to password security and IP address filtering, a well-designed remote power management switch should support authentication protocols such as TACACS+, LDAP, Kerberos and RADIUS in order to ensure that each potential user is who they claim to be. It’s also important to protect dial-up access to the remote power management unit, so high quality remote power management units often include features such as dial-back or call-back security, which essentially provide authentication-like tools for modem communication.

A truck roll or service call might seem like the most convenient way to deal with locked up units in remote network equipment cabinets in the short run, but the costs of constant service calls have a tendency to build up over time and a service call also takes a lot more time than simply dialing into a remote power management unit, and rebooting a device with a simple ASCII command or menu option. Not only does a remote power management unit provide a faster, more economical means to reboot network devices at remote sites, but a remote power management unit can also provide capabilities that are far beyond those provided by a service call or truck roll.

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