Automatically Reboot Network Elements that Fail to Respond to Ping Commands

When a remote network equipment rack or off-site data center includes a remote reboot unit, this allows network administrators and support personnel to reboot network devices at the remote equipment site without the need for an expensive service call. Although a remote reboot switch provides an excellent solution for rebooting remote network devices, there’s still room for improvement in that this type of solution still relies on a user or administrator to report an unresponsive device before a remote reboot is initiated.

In order to minimize network down-time, a truly effective remote reboot solution needs to have the capability to reboot unresponsive devices before the situation deteriorates to a point that the unresponsive device interferes with network communication. Rather than waiting for users to complain about lost network services, it’s much more efficient if the remote reboot switch is able to find unresponsive devices and reboot them before they interrupt network communication and frustrate users to a point where they feel like reporting the situation.

If the remote reboot unit includes a “ping watchdog” or “ping failure” alarm, this allows the remote reboot switch to routinely ping user-selected devices, and then automatically reboot those devices and/or report outages when a target device fails to respond to a ping command. In most cases a ping watchdog alarm feature enables administrators to indicate IP addresses for target devices, define how often each device will be pinged, and then select an appropriate response for each device in the event of ping failure. For example, although you may wish to automatically reboot unresponsive devices in some cases, there may be other cases where the network administrator only wishes to be notified when a device fails to respond to a ping command. Likewise, there may be some devices that need to be constantly monitored for ping response, while others only need to be checked every fifteen minutes or so.

A remote reboot switch with a well designed ping watchdog alarm should also offer administrators the option to determine how many failed ping commands it will take to initiate an automatic reboot or alarm message; in some cases you might want to reboot a device after a single ping response failure, while in other cases, you might want to wait until the device fails to respond to three or four successive ping commands.

If the remote reboot unit will be used to send alarm messages when a device fails to respond to a ping command, the ping watchdog function should offer several different notification options in order to fit the needs of different types of users and support personnel. In most cases, if the ping watchdog alarm allows notification via email, text message, SNMP trap and/or SYSLOG message, this will fit the needs of most tech support personnel who would be called on to respond to a ping failure alarm.

The ability to reboot network devices at remote equipment sites can save both time and money, as well as minimize network down-time and help to ensure that vital network services are always available when needed. Although the power control capabilities provided by a remote reboot switch are an essential part of any remote network equipment management application, there are also additional features, such as a ping watchdog function, that can help to improve the efficiency of the remote reboot switch and enable administrators to take a more proactive approach to remote network management. The primary advantage provided by a remote reboot switch with a ping watchdog feature, is that network administrators can find unresponsive devices almost immediately and quickly address the problem, instead of waiting for an unresponsive device to disrupt network communication badly enough that the situation can’t be ignored.

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