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Posted on 29 June 2019

Enabling Device Connectivity for Remote Power Management

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Reduced maintenance expenses, and higher uptime are quickly realized.

Many businesses and service providers rely heavily on geographically dispersed equipment. But when a device “locks-up” or fails, the options for recovery are limited.

By Martin Poppelaars, VP EMEA Sales Europe, Lantronix

 

Being able to get to the equipment remotely can save expense and allow for quick problem mitigation. One simple but effective method of fixing many problems is to cycle power or reboot. If the device is at a remote POP site, Telco central office, co-location facility or even an equipment room, gaining access to perform the reboot on the device can present a challenge. A majority of enterprises use uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to keep their equipment operational. Multiple devices are connected via a single UPS to power outlets, which poses its own dilemma.

If an individual router fails, for example, the UPS does not have the ability to power cycle an individual power outlet. There are typically two recovery choices. One option is a radical approach whereby an operator can command the UPS to simultaneously power cycle both itself and all its attached devices. The second choice is to dispatch a technician to power cycle the problem router at the remote location. Both options have clear drawbacks in terms of time and expense.

The pitfalls of dropped connections

The direct or indirect revenue stream dependent on remote equipment is jeopardised with the long list of problems caused by a failed network.

Firstly, many third party technician service calls to locked-up network equipment are solved with a reboot operation. Yet a third party service call averages about (use local currency).

In addition to this, the average downtime from locked-up equipment averages 1.5 hours. From this, service level penalties and lost revenue go up exponentially, depending on the size of the enterprise.

The knock on effects of this, of course, are lost revenue, customer dissatisfaction, decreased productivity and service level agreement penalties. The importance of attaining the fast and easy recovery of locked up devices, therefore, should be paramount. But where to begin?

Intelligent Power Distribution

Service providers and other businesses whose revenue is dependent upon the quantity of remote devices they manage need to know the maximum number of devices the available power resource will support. A critical factor that defines what equipment can be installed is the available power. Yet, configuring the maximum number of devices for a power supply is not a straightforward process.

With the expectation of an always on, always working Internet economy, installation of new equipment is needed to handle the exploding data loads. Adding more equipment, however, is constrained by the availability of power resources and complicated by the manufacturer’s nameplate specification, which is generally inaccurate and cannot be used for power planning.

The solution for adding new equipment to existing power supplies is to perform power measurement verification. If, however, equipment units are co-located at multiple sites, then performing on-site measurement verifications becomes costly and time-consuming. There is also the consideration that technicians with the skills to perform power verification are very limited. Remote Power Management devices can expedite this process, performing the needed measurements and verification remotely.

The need for remote management

Remote Power Management combines intelligent power distribution, management and measurement into a single device. Using this solution, network and system administrators, service providers and hosting companies are able to power On/Off and reboot attached servers or individually control the power to attached devices from a remote location. This is achieved via in-band or out-of-band communications through a Console Server, Remote power manager, Remote KVM™ or directly over an IP network.

The Remote Power Manager provides the ability to immediately power cycle or reboot the network without interrupting all the equipment attached to the UPS.

Remote Power Managers, in conjunction with a console server or Remote KVM, can also initiate a graceful shut down for a wide variety of servers, and provide remote equipment monitoring to ensure that software is running correctly.

Another important function that Remote Power Managers can provide is power sequencing. During a power-up, each of the power outlets can power on sequentially, which distributes the load and eliminates the risk of a blown fuse or circuit breaker trip due to inrush currents. Highly useful in a networked data centre, power sequencing gives system administrators the option to turn on certain devices before others.

A further way Remote Power Managers help to maximize data centre utilisation is through environmental monitoring. Remote Power Managers can also include temperature and humidity sensing allowing for the remote monitoring of critical environmental conditions.

How Remote Power Management Technology Works

Remote power management can be done by securely connecting directly to the power manager for individual device control or through a management appliance that facilitates the control of large numbers of devices. User interfaces with clear and understandable screens and/or commands are essential for smooth operation.

User Interface

User Interface

There are typically two types of user interfaces that are supported. A graphical user interface (GUI) allows an operator to control the power to devices directly.

The command line interface (CLI) allows script files to be constructed and sent directly for execution. Remote Power Managers execute the commands sent to them via scripting or direct from the user and provide appropriate feedback.

Network control hardware such as routers, DSU/CSU, network servers and uninterruptible power supplies often require In-Band management. For remote access to critical network hardware, SNMP management, IPbased management tools and other In-Band management approaches are needed. But when the network in a remote location is not functioning, SNMP and In-Band management tools are of no use.

A good alternative to sending a technician on-site is to install an Out-of-Band management system. Out-of-Band management provides dial up access to the RS-232 console, craft, or AUX ports on network control hardware. With this access, systems administrators can communicate with routers, DSU/CSU, file servers, or any other network hardware equipped with an asynchronous RS-232 control port, with a modem and phone line. This allows for remote diagnosis and resolution of problems which require more than a power cycle.

Security

Direct TCP/IP access to each Remote Power Management device on the network is the fastest and most direct method to reboot an individual server or router, but also presents the greatest security risk to the network. If not properly secured, this could allow nefarious individuals to power down or up devices without proper authorization.

To prevent such an attack, the Remote Power Manager solution must provide encrypted security solutions for network traffic. True access security is provided only when utilising one of the commonly used security protocols, such as SSL, TLS, and SSH security protocols. SSH and TLS/SSL represent the strongest security protocols available for communicating and managing a Remote Power Management device via TCP/IP network. Both of these protocols provide for authentication and the strongest of encryption of the entire session.

Conclusion

Maintaining “five nines” of uptime in the data centre is imperative for today’s distributed networks. Remote Power Management offers a solution to quickly return a network to operational status after a failure or a system reconfiguration. In doing so, businesses can achieve maximum uptime by isolating individual locked-up components and independently rebooting the failed device. In other cases, it allows for remote out of band access to the console port for problem resolution.

In being able to offer this level of remote access, monitoring, and control of equipment, the results of quicker problem resolution, reduced maintenance expenses, and higher uptime are quickly realized.

 

 

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