Outbound SSH/Telnet Provides Another Alternative for Console Switch Communication with Remote Network Devices

Most network administrators are already familiar with the concept of using a console switch to create an out of band connection to network elements at a remote equipment site, but it might come as a surprise to some that a console switch can also be used to provide out of band access to a local network at a remote equipment site. When network equipment cabinets are located so far off the beaten track that direct network communication with the cabinet is not possible, a console switch that supports outbound SSH/Telnet can be employed to allow users to access a local network at the remote site via dial-up connection, and then communicate with any device on the local network at the remote site.

In addition to providing out of band access to network elements that are cable connected to a console switch serial port, a console switch with outbound SSH/Telnet capabilities can also communicate with any other network element on a local area network at a remote equipment site. In cases like this, a console switch is first installed at the remote equipment site and connected to both the local network at the remote site and an external modem. When administrators or tech support personnel need to communicate with devices at the remote site, they can dial-in to the external modem and then use the console switch’s outbound SSH or telnet capabilities to create a secure connection to other devices on the local area network.

A console switch with outbound SSH/Telnet support comes in very handy in any situation where the remote location of a network equipment cabinet makes direct communication impossible, but administrators and users still need to establish a network connection to devices at the remote site in order to perform diagnostic functions, change configuration parameters, troubleshoot potential problems or simply retrieve data from devices at the remote site. This provides a secure, reliable out of band management solution for any network application where direct network access is not available, and the cost of running a network cable to the remote site is prohibitively expensive.

Obviously, if a user can establish a dial-up connection with the console switch, then they can, most likely, also establish a dial-up connection with other devices at the remote equipment site, but often the device capabilities that are available via dial-up are limited when compared to the capabilities that are available via an SSH or Telnet connection. In cases like this, the dial-up connection to the console switch and subsequent outbound SSH/Telnet connection to the target network device can provide essentially the same capabilities via dial up that are normally only available via a direct network connection.

In most console switch application, the console switch is used only to provide access to console port command functions on remote network elements. But if the console switch also supports outbound SSH/Telnet connections, then the console switch enables users to communicate with any device on the local network at the remote equipment site, without the need to run a network cable to the remote site or limit communication to only the network elements that are directly connected to a console switch serial port. The entire purpose of a console switch is to provide an alternative means for communication with network devices at remote locations; when the console switch supports outbound SSH/Telnet this also provides yet another alternative for communication when a normal network connection is not available.

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