The Console Server: An Important Element in an Effective Out-of-Band Management Solution

When a vital network element located at a remote installation site crashes or becomes unresponsive, an out-of-band management solution can help administrators to correct the problem without the hassles, expense and delays of a service call. When an out-of-band management solution includes a console server, this enables administrators to access console port command functions on remote network elements in order to perform diagnostic routines, change configuration parameters and check conditions at the distant network site without the need to travel to the site in person.

When properly deployed, a console server provides two avenues for access to remote console port command functions, allowing both in-band communication and out-of-band communication. In-band communication is usually provided by a direct Ethernet connection to the console server unit, while out-of-band communication can be provided via dial-up or other means. If the console server includes dual Ethernet ports, then a secondary, maintenance network can be used for out-of-band communication.

In order to ensure that remote access to critical console port command functions is safely protected from unauthorized access, a console server should include up-to-date security and authentication capabilities. Basic security features such as a password directory with configurable access rights provides a good start, but in order to make certain that communication with the console server is secure, it’s helpful if the console server also includes features such as an IP address filter, encryption support and HTTPS, plus support for popular authentication protocols such as LDAP, Kerberos, TACACS+ and RADIUS.

There are many other useful features to look for on a console server besides security and authentication capabilities. Monitoring and alarm features can be particularly useful in helping administrators to keep better track of noteworthy conditions and events at the remote network site. Features such as temperature alarms, invalid access attempt alarms, ping-no-answer alarms and power supply alarms allow a more proactive approach to network management by alerting administrators of potentially harmful conditions and events and providing an opportunity to address small problems before they grow into big problems.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.