The Console Server: A Vital Tool for Out-of-Band Management

In applications that involve communication with remote network elements, reliable out-of-band console access can spell the difference between effective management and chaos. When normal network communication is disrupted by a crashed Ethernet switch or other device at a remote equipment installation, out-of-band access to console port command functions enables administrators to correct the problem without the expenses and delays associated with a physical service call. An intelligently deployed Console Server provides the most effective solution for out-of-band access to remote network elements when normal network communication is not available.

In a typical console server installation, remote administrators can access the console server unit via either primary network connection, or if that’s not available, via an alternative, out-of-band avenue such as dial-up, broadband or secondary maintenance network. Once connected to the console server, administrators can then invoke commands to access console port command functions on any device at the remote site that is connected to one of the console server’s serial ports. This access to the remote console port allows administrators to execute commands to display device status, change configuration parameters or initiate troubleshooting routines in order to correct the problem that caused the network outage in the first place.

This eliminates the need for a physical service call to the remote site, and also the delays in restoration of service that inevitably occur while the service team is en route to the remote site. In applications such as lights out data centers, stand-alone kiosks or remote network equipment enclosures, console servers are often provide remote administrators with their principle means for communicating with devices at the remote site.

Advanced console access products, such as WTI’s TSM series console servers often include other features in addition to out-of-band management capabilities that help to simplify the task of tracking conditions and events at remote equipment sites. Features such as temperature alarms, ping-no-answer alarms, event logging and loss of power alarms help administrators to detect small problems before they grow into large problems that interfere with the normal function of the remote site. In addition to supporting monitoring and alarm functions for remote site management, TSM series console servers also include a formidable array of security and authentication features, advanced encryption capabilities, support for SNMP monitoring and control and a multitude of other versatile, user-configurable features designed to simplify the process of managing network elements at remote equipment sites.

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