Remote Access to Console Ports via GigE Networks

At one time in the not-too-distant past, a service call or truck provided the only workable solution for dealing with unresponsive routers or switches that had crashed and disrupted network communication. Although this approach (eventually) took care of the problem, it also resulted in excessive expenses, hassles and network downtime while you waited for your service team to arrive on-site. Fortunately, thanks to devices such as GigE Serial Console Servers, there are now other, more effective ways to deal with network outages.

When serial console servers are deployed at remote network equipment sites, technicians at your NOC can establish a secure connection to the serial console server and then access console ports on other switches, routers, firewalls and other devices at the remote site. This provides immediate access to console port command functions on unresponsive devices and allows support personnel to easily reload routing tables, change configuration parameters or run diagnostic routines.

In order to provide a truly effective tool for remote management of critical network elements, a serial console server must incorporate an out-of-band communication strategy that allows communication with remote network elements even when the primary network is down. Typically, an out-of-band management solution will allow communication via both a primary network and a secondary network. In order to provide an additional layer of communication redundancy, it’s also desirable for the GigE serial console server to support dial-up communication. When a serial console server includes both dual GigE network ports and an internal modem, this provides three possible avenues for communication with remote devices in the event of network outages.

Given the fact that a serial console server provides remote access to console ports on critical network elements, a serial console server must also include adequate security and authentication features that will prevent unauthorized access to console port command functions. Network access should be protected by standard security measures such as user accounts with individual passwords, support for popular authentication protocols and an encryption solution to protect information being sent to and from the console server. Dial-up communication with the console server should also include measures to verify the identity of each potential user, such as standard password protection and a dialback feature.

In a world where network communication speeds are constantly on the rise, a serial console server must also be able to function on a GigE (or Gigabit Ethernet,) network. This means that rather than relying on standard 10/100 BaseT Ethernet, the console server should include 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports.

An effective out-of-band management solution provides tech support personnel with a secure, reliable means to deal with problems at remote sites, without having to wait for help to arrive at the remote site. Rather than keeping users hanging during network outages, while a service truck slowly makes its way up a mountain road to a remote equipment site, a console server provides immediate access to vital console port command functions, without the delays, hassles and expense of an old fashioned truck roll.

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