Managing Devices at Remote Branch Offices in Large Enterprise Networks

When a critical network element located at a remote branch office malfunctions and disrupts network communication, an out-of-band management solution allows tech support personnel to address the problem immediately, without the hassles, expenses or delays associated with a physical truck roll or service call. When an effective out-of-band management solution is deployed at a remote branch office, personnel at the NOC can promptly access console port command functions on the remote device or execute a reboot without the need to actually travel to the site in person, minimizing downtime and ensuring that vital network based services are available when needed.

Although implementing a viable out-of-band management solution is fairly simple in the case of a single site or a small network, the challenge of adding out-of-band management capabilities to a large enterprise network can present a different set of problems, due mostly to the sheer size and scope of and enterprise application. For example, in addition to branch offices, enterprise networks generally include a wide variety of different sizes and types of remote equipment sites. Each different type of site, be it a branch office, data center or microwave antenna site, will present a different set of needs, different problems to be solved and different assets to be used.

In enterprise networks, the out-of-band management solution chosen for any particular type of remote equipment site must be compatible with an enterprise management solution that will be used to coordinate management capabilities at all sites in the network. The reason for this is simple: although most commercially available enterprise management solutions offer the capability to catalog the various devices in the network and collect data from these devices, they usually don’t offer the capability to control reboot and console access functions. In order to provide a centralized interface for controlling reboot and console access operations, one generally has to rely on the out of band management solution provided by the manufacturer of the switched PDUs and console servers that comprise your out-of-band management solution.

In order to provide a scalable solution that can handle the out-of-band management needs of many different sizes and types of remote network equipment sites, the devices that control remote power reboot and console access functions at each site must also be available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. For example, while a branch office may only require power reboot and console access capabilities for six or seven devices, a larger remote network site such as a data center might require reboot and console access capabilities for dozens or even hundreds of devices. For this reason, when selecting a vendor for the switched PDUs and console servers that will comprise the OOB management solution, it’s wise to choose a vendor who offers switched PDUs and console servers in various sizes that fit the requirements of your application to ensure that a single enterprise management solution will be able to control devices at remote sites.

When one considers the diverse challenges that must be met when designing and effective out-of-band management solution, it quickly becomes apparent that a good deal of planning and research are required in order to create an OOB management solution that will fit the capabilities and requirements of your specific application. In addition to providing a reliable, effective means to reboot remote devices and access console port command functions at distant equipment sites, a carefully planned OOB management solution should also be able to satisfy the management needs of many different types of remote equipment sites, match the power and communication options available at each type of site and provide a means to quickly locate and control specific console servers and switched PDUs when an emergency arises.

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