Using a Network Power Switch to Keep Tabs on Remote Network Equipment

Remote network equipment sites always present a unique set of challenges for the network administrator. Due to the distant location of off-site data centers and remote equipment racks, they are obviously more difficult to access than a local equipment rack. This means that not only is it more difficult to perform routine maintenance and troubleshooting functions at a remote equipment site, it’s also more difficult to keep track of potentially harmful conditions and events at the remote site.

Although most network administrators are relatively familiar with the general concept of using a network power switch to provide remote reboot and power switching functions, many often overlook other useful remote management capabilities that can be provided by a high quality network power switch, such as the ability to monitor environmental factors and significant events at the remote equipment site. In addition to providing a reliable remote power management solution, a full featured network power switch with monitoring and alarm features can also keep track of important factors such as rack temperatures, current consumption, power supply interruptions, unresponsive devices and other important events and conditions at off-site data centers and remote equipment racks.

Ideally, a network power switch should provide monitoring and alarm features that constantly track conditions at the remote site, and then provide prompt notification when conditions exceed user-defined thresholds. For example, if the network power switch includes a temperature monitoring alarm, the alarm should enable users to select specific temperature levels that will trigger an alarm, and then provide the option to generate notification messages which can be sent via email, text message, SNMP trap or Syslog message. In addition, this temperature alarm feature should also support the ability to automatically power-off non-essential devices that are likely to generate excessive heat within the rack or power-on cooling systems to reduce rack temperatures.

The ability to monitor a number of different conditions and events is also crucial for a well-designed network power switch. Alarm functions such as a ping response alarm (or ping-no-answer alarm) enable the network power switch to constantly ping vital network devices and check for a response. If the target device fails to respond to a ping command (or a sequence of ping commands), then the alarm should allow the option to automatically reboot the target device and/or send notification to network administrators or tech support personnel in order to allow them to investigate the matter further.

When a network power switch that supports monitoring and alarm functions is installed in an off-site network equipment cabinet, network administrators have access to two very powerful remote management tools; remote reboot/power control, plus the ability to keep an eye on conditions and events at the remote equipment site. The value of remote reboot capability is pretty plain to see; it’s much more effective and inexpensive to remotely reboot unresponsive devices at the remote rack than it is to send a tech support team to perform the reboot in person. Likewise, the ability to monitor conditions and events at the remote site can also save money and help to maximize network up-time by providing administrators with the ability to track significant conditions at the remote site, and take preventative measures to address those problems before they lead to equipment failure, unnecessary network outages and expensive equipment replacement costs.

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