Remote Power Management – A Vital Capability for Off-Site Network Equipment Applications

When a server or a router at an off-site network equipment cabinet suddenly locks up and refuses to cooperate, in many cases a simple power reboot is all that’s needed to get an uncooperative network element back up and running again. Unfortunately though, due to the remote nature of off-site data centers and distant network equipment racks, rebooting a frozen router or server is often much more of a challenge than it would be if the device in question was located a few steps away from your office.

When managing power at a remote network equipment site, network administrators are often left with a very limited number of options. The most expensive option would be to maintain a human presence at the off-site data center, but given the difficulty in accessing many remote network equipment sites, this is often fairly impractical. Another possible solution would be to send a tech support team out to the off-site data center to deal with the problem in person, but service calls are generally prohibitively expensive, and you’re still left without service while your techs are en route to deal with the problem. The most practical solution for managing remote reboot and power control functions at a distant network equipment rack, is to implement a remote power management strategy for the remote site, which is generally centered around a switched PDU or remote reboot switch.

When a remote network equipment application includes remote power management capabilities, this enables administrators and tech support personnel to deal with equipment problems at off-site data centers and distant equipment racks without the need to travel to the site in person or maintain a constant human presence at the remote site. An intelligently planned remote power management solution provides network administrators with the ability to control reboot and power management functions at the remote site, using a network connection or out of band communication to issue reboot commands to unresponsive devices or control power switching functions.

In an ideal remote power management application, the switched PDU should allow administrators to invoke reboot cycles to restore malfunctioning devices at the remote equipment site, and also provide the ability to schedule power switching functions and monitor environmental conditions, current consumption and other relevant events and factors at distant equipment sites without the need to travel to the site in person. For example, high quality remote power management products sometimes include the ability to create schedules which automatically switch Off non-essential devices during periods of low use, or switch on devices such as cooling equipment during times of the day when rack temperatures might be expected to rise. In other cases, monitoring functions such as ping response monitors or “ping-no-answer” alarms can be configured to constantly ping a user-defined IP address, and then automatically reboot the device at the address if it ceases to respond to ping commands.

The task of managing an off-site data center or remote equipment rack presents an entirely different set of challenges than one would encounter when managing network equipment located in the office next door. With this in mind, it’s pretty to easy to see that the methods that are used to manage a local network application fall a bit short when applied to remote power management. That’s why a remote power management solution often involves a completely different approach to providing reboot and power control functions, and also requires monitoring abilities in order to keep administrators informed regarding conditions at the remote site without the need for constant service calls. If you’re faced with the responsibility of ensuring that vital network elements in distant network equipment cabinets are always available when needed, a well-planned remote power management solution can make your life easier, keep you better informed regarding conditions at the remote site, cut costs and response time and drastically simplify common tasks such as power reboots to restore communication with devices at the remote site.

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