Managing Pipeline Monitoring Stations in Public Utilities Networks

Large enterprise networks, like those found in public utilities applications, present many unique challenges when implementing an out-of-band management solution. Due to the sheer size and complexity of most public utilities networks, an effective out-of-band management solution must provide sufficient scalability to meet the needs of both large equipment sites such as data centers and also small equipment sites such as pipeline monitoring stations.

In addition, an out-of-band management solution in a large public utilities network must also allow enough flexibility to adapt to the power supply options and communication options available at a variety of different types of remote equipment sites. To further complicate matters, equipment racks at smaller sites such as pipeline monitoring stations are often already so crammed full of devices that limited space is available for installation of the switched PDUs and console servers that comprise the business end of an out-of-band management solution.

Due to the extremely remote nature of most pipeline monitoring stations, an out-of-band management solution provides a vital aid to support personnel by allowing them to deal with network emergencies at remote sites without the need to travel to those sites in person. This means that in spite of the various challenges ad problems that must be face when implementing an OOB management solution in a public utility enterprise network, the convenience and reduced downtime provided by OOB management make the time spent planning such a solution well worthwhile.

A carefully planned out-of-band management solution in public utility applications should account for a number of important factors. Firstly, the OOB management solution should provide a single, centralized command interface which can be used to access remote console port functions and control power reboot switching. Given the size of most enterprise networks in public utility applications, an effective OOB management solution must also simplify the process of locating specific power reboot devices and console servers in order to speed the process of dealing with problems at each individual remote site.

The out-of-band management devices installed at pipeline monitoring stations and other remote sites must fit the needs of each site. Smaller sites such as pipeline monitoring stations where rack space is scarce and valuable might need a compact OOB management solution that combines both remote reboot and console functions in a single 1U device, while larger sites such as data centers will inevitably need the capacity to provide remote console access and reboot functions for a large number of devices and as such will require an OOB solution that provides more switched outlets and serial ports than smaller equipment sites.

Once implemented, an effective out-of-band management solution saves both time and money by ensuring that vital network based services are available when needed and the time required to deal with problems at remote sites is kept to a minimum. Obviously, an effective solution requires dedicated research, planning and discussion, but once implemented you’ll wonder how you ever kept your network up and running without the benefit of out-of-band management.

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