A Quality Remote Power Switch Can do a Lot More than Just Remote Reboots

Most network administrators are fairly familiar with the concept of using a remote power switch to initiate a reboot cycle at a remote network equipment rack. Although the remote reboot capabilities provided by a remote power switch can be a lifesaver when a vital network element at a remote site suddenly locks up, a high quality remote reboot switch can usually do a heck of a lot more than just cycle power Off and back On again; a full-featured remote power switch should also be able to keep you informed about noteworthy conditions and events at off-site data centers and remote network equipment racks.

When managing devices such as routers, servers and firewalls located in remote, off-site network equipment racks, it can often be helpful to have some means of monitoring environmental conditions and critical user events at the remote site. Although the main task of a remote power switch is to provide power control and reboot functions for devices at distant network equipment sites, many well-designed remote power switches also support the ability to monitor environmental factors such as rack temperature and current consumption, as well as user activities such as invalid access attempts and other activities.

When a remote power switch supports monitoring and alarm features, this allows network administrators to be kept better informed regarding conditions at remote network equipment installations. Typically, monitoring and alarm functions work together to detect significant events and conditions at the remote equipment site, and then report these conditions to administrators and tech support personnel. For example, if the remote power switch includes a temperature alarm, this generally allows network administrators to regularly measure and record temperature trends at off-site data centers and other remote network equipment installations, and then automatically notify the appropriate personnel if temperatures rise above user-defined critical levels. Ideally, the remote power switch should be able to provide notification via email, text message, SNMP trap and/or Syslog message when temperatures rise to a point that could potentially inhibit the performance of network elements at the site, or in the worst case, actually damage network devices.

A good remote power switch should also include other other monitoring and alarm features that allow it to track and record significant factors such as current consumption levels, power outages, open circuit breakers, devices that fail to respond to ping commands, loss of dial-tone at an attached modem and excessive invalid access attempts. Alarm functions for all of these factors should allow the user to set critical threshold levels that will generate an alarm and select notification methods for each type of alarm.

If the remote power switch includes an audit log, this often enables the remote power switch to monitor and record user activities such as unit configuration changes, login/logout times, switching activity and other factors. Logged records of this type are often very helpful when attempting to determine the root cause of negative network events, and can also help administrators to set user-access privileges in a manner that ensures optimum performance of the remote power switch and attached devices.

If you’re like most network administrators, then you’re probably already familiar with the convenience of the remote power control and remote reboot capabilities that are provided by a remote power switch; when a critical device at a remote site suddenly hangs or refuses to cooperate, a remote power reboot can often solve the problem without the need for an expensive service call to the remote site. Remote reboot capabilities can often save the day in many cases, but a full-featured remote power switch can usually do a lot more than just reboot remote network devices; a good remote power switch should also be able to keep you better informed, and provide a clearer picture of exactly what’s going on at your off-site data center or remote network equipment rack.

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