Get the Most Out of Your Console Management Solution

Not too many years ago, the sole purpose of a console management solution was to provide out of band access to console port command functions on remote network elements. Although that function is still important, these days most full featured console management units are expected to provide additional capabilities that are intended to help network administrators to track conditions and events at remote network equipment sites in addition to providing out of band management capabilities.

The reason for this is fairly simple; over the years, the purpose of console management has expanded and taken on new responsibilities. Instead of merely providing remote access to console port command functions, a truly comprehensive console management strategy should also allow network administrators to track conditions such as temperature trends and power supply stability as well as potentially significant events such as invalid access attempts and occasions when network devices fail to respond to ping commands. Since most remote network equipment applications routinely devote rack space to a console management solution anyway, why not maximize the capabilities provided by the console management solution to include the ability to keep a closer watch on exactly what’s going on at the remote site?

When one looks at the many condition and event monitoring functions that can be provided by a console management solution, the ability to sense temperatures in the remote rack often stands out as one of the most useful. Although rack temperatures are easily managed via cooling strategies, if left unaddressed, excessively High rack temperatures can also be very damaging to many different types of network devices. Since most remote network equipment racks lack a human presence, a console management solution that supports temperature monitoring and alarms can be very beneficial to network administrators who are faced with temperature problems at remote equipment sites. Even in cases where the equipment rack already includes some sort of temperature monitoring equipment, a well-designed console management solution can often detect excessively high or excessively low temperatures and notify administrators of the condition faster and more effectively.

Typically, a console management solution that includes temperature monitoring and alarm capabilities allows administrators to define critical temperature levels, and then configure notification functions that will be used to alert support personnel when temperature rise too high or fall too low. When excessively high or low rack temperatures are detected, the console management solution should offer several alternatives for notification. Generally speaking, the more notification methods supported, the more likely it is that the console management temperature alarm will be able to fit the communication needs of your various support personnel. In most cases, a console management unit that supports the ability to provide temperature alarms via email, text message, SYSLOG message and SNMP trap will provide a solution that supports the needs of a wide variety of different users.

In addition to tracking rack temperatures and reporting excessively high or low temperatures, a comprehensive console management solution should also support the ability to create a record of rack temperatures, and display this record in graph format that displays temperature as a function of date and time. This sort of graphic record of rack temperature vs. time can prove extremely helpful for network support personnel who need to determine periods of the day or week when temperatures are most likely to rise in order to provide better planning of cooling needs.

When implementing a console management solution, most network administrator do so in order to provide out of band management capabilities and remote access to console port command functions. But as long as you’re devoting valuable rack space to the console management unit, it’s wise to go a step further, and make certain that your console management solution will also be able track conditions at the remote site such as rack temperatures and power supply stability in order to provide a clearer picture of exactly what’s going on at the remote site, and help too plan for cooling needs and other factors that could potentially impact network device performance at the remote site.

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