Why out-of-band management solutions are vital for your network

A few months ago here on TechGenix, I talked about how while 5G is on everyone’s lips these days, the reality is 4G LTE will probably still be around for a while for many of us, and thank goodness. The specific context of my article was about using 4G LTE as a backup for ensuring business Internet connectivity when your normal access to the Internet is cut off. This got me thinking about the larger question of what to do when the Internet connectivity of your datacenter or server room becomes unavailable for some reason. And you’re working remotely and need to manage that server way back there in the office or in your datacenter. What you will need, of course, is some kind of backchannel for communicating and issuing commands to your servers remotely. In other words, you need a solution for out-of-band (OOB) management that gives you an alternate, dedicated and secure method of accessing your IT network infrastructure so you can remotely administer your servers, applications, and other IT assets. To gain more insight into such solutions and some ideas for what might constitute a good out-of-band management solution, I reached out for thoughts on the subject from Todd Rychecky, vice president of Americas for Opengear, a company that offers network monitoring, datacenter, and IT infrastructure management solutions for secure remote access to the critical systems that keep your business running. Todd is responsible for developing and executing sales strategies, multiple business initiatives, hiring and talent development, setting performance goals, and growing the business. He joined the company in 2008 and was the first sales and marketing hire. Todd earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University. The following is the text of the brief Q&A that I had with Todd on this important subject.

MITCH: Todd, why is it important for businesses to have out-of-band management solutions in place for their networks?

TODD: Out-of-band management is the independent management plane that is separate from the production network. It gives the network admin direct remote access to a network device without having to travel across the main network or across the country to do it. When a network goes down, you need a way to remotely get into the network infrastructure to remediate the problem. It’s important to have the network resilience tools to quickly bring it back online.

MITCH: What are some of the different forms of OOB management solutions organizations typically use to manage critical IT assets when infrastructure and connectivity faults occur?

Companies use console servers or terminal servers for remote access to serial and ethernet ports in datacenters, branch offices, and distribution centers. The communication interface has been an analog phone line, cable modem, or 3G/4G cellular. The most common today is 4G LTE.

MITCH: Are there older forms of OOB management technologies that are no longer viable today for organizations to rely upon?

Analog phone lines (POTS lines) were being used as far back as the 1990s and are still used today. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint have been aggressively turning off POTS lines and in the past 24 months have increased the price by 5 times as analog phone line networks cost billions to maintain. Cellular networks are also going through a transition today as AT&T will turn off their 3G network beginning in Feb 2022 and Verizon turns their 3G network off in Dec 2022.

MITCH: What considerations should a customer think about when deciding what kind of OOB management solution they should implement for their organization?

Organizations should implement an out-of-band management solution that is smart and includes NetOps automation. Smart OOB provides a 4G LTE independent management plane for remote access and proactive monitoring, alerting, and remediation through text messages and email alerts. A NetOps platform allows a network team to use zero-touch provisioning, Docker, APIs, Ansible, and Python to automate the deployment of network infrastructure and eliminating human error in the process. Here’s an infographic that can explain more for your readers about how this idea of smart OOB management works:

How smart OOB management works

MITCH: What distinguishes Opengear from its competitors in the area of OOB management solutions?

Opengear brings Smart OOB and NetOps together. It allows NetOps, DevOps, and network teams to work on the same platform to achieve their daily tasks and network resilience. As the pioneer of cellular out-of-band management in 2010, we give our customers a 4G LTE independent management plane to quickly remediate issues without having to travel to a site location to do it. We also pioneered and have the best implementation of zero-touch provisioning on the market today.

MITCH: What do you see in terms of future developments in the field of OOB management over the next few years?

The future of OOB management will include new developments in 5G cellular, blockchain technology for security, and utilizing TPM chips and automation tools for remote deployments of global network infrastructure.

MITCH: I’m looking forward to that future. Thanks, Todd, for sharing your time with us.

TODD: You’re most welcome.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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