The IP Power Switch: An Intelligent Alternative to a Service Call

When a vital network element suddenly locks up and crashes, often all it takes is a simple power reboot to get that device up and running again. Unfortunately, a “simple” power reboot is only simple when the network device in question is located down the hall or in the room next door; if the troublesome network element is located at an offsite data center or remote network equipment rack, miles away from the central office, then the time and trouble of getting to the remote equipment site can make even the most basic network management tasks seem like a major challenge.

When a malfunctioning network device at a remote location needs attention, network administrators are basically left with two choices: they can either send a tech support team out to travel to the remote site and address the problem in person, or they can rely on an IP power switch to reboot remote network devices. An IP power switch provides network administrators with a secure, reliable tool for controlling power functions at remote network equipment sites, without the costs and delays that inevitably come with a service call or truck roll.

An IP power switch enables administrators to control power switching and reboot functions via IP or dial-up connection, and in addition, often provide monitoring and alarm functions that help network administrators to be kept better informed regarding events and conditions at offsite network equipment installations. When an IP power switch is installed at a remote data center or offsite network equipment cabinet, network administrators can easily establish a secure connection to the IP power switch and then gain immediate access to power switching and reboot functions without the need to travel to the site in person.

Ideally, the IP power switch should support communication via both IP/Telnet and dial-up modem. Although an IP connection is generally the most efficient means for communication with an IP power switch, support for modem communication helps to ensure that administrators will still be able to communicate with the switch even when network communication is disrupted or unavailable. Support for modem communication can prove to be a particularly useful capability in cases where a crashed device at the remote site has taken down network communication with the remote site.

Once a secure connection to the IP power switch is established, the IP power switch should allow network administrators to initiate power switching and reboot operations using ASCII commands or by selecting items from a web based menu. In addition to on-demand power switching and reboot functions, some high quality IP power switch products also offer the capability to define automated power switching schedules, which can be used to power on devices during periods of peak use, or automatically reboot specific devices at the beginning or end of each business day.

When the IP power switch includes monitoring and alarm functions, this enables network administrators to set up functions to monitor and detect environmental factors such as temperature trends and current usage or significant events such as invalid access attempts. When noteworthy conditions or events are detected at the remote network equipment site, the IP power switch can then promptly notify administrators via SNMP Trap, email, text message or SYSLOG message, allowing a rapid response to conditions and events that could potentially harm network equipment or interfere with network communication.

An IP power switch provides an extremely efficient alternative for responding to crashed network devices and other equipment problems at remote network equipment sites and also enables network administrators to have a clearer picture of important environmental conditions and user events at the remote site. This provides a much better solution for managing remote network devices, without the need to rely on service calls and truck rolls, nor the need to deal with the high costs and delays that inevitably accompany a long trip to a remote network equipment rack, just to flip a power switch Off and back On again.

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