Opengear, a leading provider of critical infrastructure management solutions through advanced console servers, remote management, monitoring, and cellular out-of-band products, recently announced a feature upgrade to its appliance range, to simplify and enhance central management of remote networks and IT infrastructure using Smart Connection Manager.
“Out-of-band management has traditionally followed the break-fix model”, explains Robert Waldie, VP Business Development for Opengear EMEA. “First an outage is reported by a remote user or central monitoring system, then network support staff react to connect to the site out-of-band, finally allowing primary connectivity to be restored. Opengear have built a smarter solution in line with the service continuity requirements of a modern managed network.”
Cellular networks have proven effective as an alternate path for remote infrastructure management due to their pervasiveness, performance and low cost. However maintaining access over a disparate network connection during a primary outage introduces a number of challenges, including network addressing, routing and security.
“Unlike a data centre or enterprise HQ, a smaller site such as a branch office, retail premises or a remote cabinet typically doesn’t have full network redundancy for high availability – the costs are just prohibitive. Opengear cellular out-of-band products with Smart Connection Manager are a drop-in solution that allows central operations staff the same degree of remote management resilience they enjoy in their top-tier sites, for a fraction of the cost.”
Smart Connection Manager is built-in to the Opengear appliance deployed at each remote site, and features network heartbeat testing with the ability to dynamically failover between primary wired and integrated cellular wireless connections. When failed over, a secure IPsec VPN connection can be established back the central NOC or management network hub via an Opengear Lighthouse or third-party VPN appliance such as Cisco ASA, to proactively restore management network routes for access, authentication, monitoring and alerting, within seconds of an outage.
In addition, Smart Connection Manager builds on the existing Auto-Response automation system inside each Opengear appliance. This allows organisations to define detailed policies to automate connection management, including SMS control, and pre-emptive failover during a power outage or environmental catastrophe such as water ingress into a remote cabinet, allowing primary network equipment to be safely powered down over the cellular link. Automated cellular health testing with periodic reporting ensures the peace of mind that cellular backup is on active standby; ready for when it’s needed most.
“We are seeing huge uptake in out-of-band management over 3G and 4G LTE, with major network vendors now beginning to follow our lead. However, naively attaching a cellular modem to a site’s primary router just replicates the break-fix model of yesteryear and frankly, as an overarching solution, translates to a poor ROI,” says Waldie. “This major upgrade is completely free to all of our customers irrespective of whether they have a support contract. Opengear are blazing trails in cellular out-of-band, and continuing to develop new features like Smart Connection Manager is part our ongoing mission to extend highly-available remote management to all corners of today’s highly distributed networks.”