Managing Remote Network Elements in Public Utilities Applications

Public utilities networks are generally both large and complex. With that in mind, it also follows that an effective out-of-band management solution for a public utilities network application must as well be relatively large and complex in order to solve the many challenges of managing a large number of devices spread across a complex network infrastructure, featuring a variety of different sizes and types of remote equipment sites. An efficient out-of-band management solution must be able to deal with problems at data centers, microwave antenna sites and also small monitoring stations.

When a critical network element in a public utilities network malfunctions and disrupts network communication, an out-of-band management solution enables support personnel to quickly correct the problem without the hassles and delays of a truck roll or service call.

Although the task of rebooting or accessing console port command functions for a stricken network device is relatively simple in and of itself, the fact that the network element is part of a large, far-flung enterprise network inevitably adds a new layer of complexity to the problem. Which switched PDU is needed to reboot the unresponsive device? What if the remote site uses DC power instead of AC? What if normal network communication with the remote site is temporarily, (or permanently,) unavailable? In order to design an out-of-band management solution that can rise to the many challenges posed by a large enterprise network in a public utilities application, all of these questions, and more, must first be answered.

There are two major factors to consider when designing an out-of-band management solution for a public utilities network; the solution must be able to address the needs of both large and small equipment sites, and the solution must offer a centralized command interface that can be used to control and coordinate remote reboot operations and console port access without the need to individually address each element in the network.

Take for example, the out-of-band management challenges presented by microwave antenna site. Since most microwave antenna support equipment is DC powered, it follows that you will need DC powered equipment to control rebooting and console access too. Likewise, since the microwave antenna site generally includes fewer devices than a data center, yet more devices than a remote pipeline monitoring station, your out-of-band management solution must offer sufficient capacity for remote reboot and console access without taking up excessive rack space. In fact, each type of site in your enterprise network will most likely require a slightly different solution.

When one considers the power requirements, rack space availability and communication avenues available at a microwave antenna site and contrasts with those found at, for example, a data center, it quickly becomes apparent that an effective out-of-band management solution must offer flexibility, scalability and the means to customize features to fit the requirements of each type of site.

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