There’s nothing new under the sun, or so the saying goes. That’s certainly the case for out-of-band management, a decades-old concept that’s been reimagined to support the operational requirements of today’s complex data center environments.

In essence, out-of-band management enables administrators to access and control IT equipment when the primary (“in-band”) network is unavailable. It requires a separate network infrastructure that’s dedicated to management and troubleshooting of mission-critical servers, storage, routers, switches and appliances.

The traditional out-of-band network supports a number of different siloed tools. KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switches enable administrators to connect to servers remotely, while embedded agents called service processors provide low-level access for remote monitoring and management. Remote power control makes it possible to turn equipment off and back on if the system had crashed or was frozen. Serial console servers allow administrators to remotely manage firewalls, switches, routers and other network gear through the device’s serial port.

While the cost of implementing an out-of-band network is substantial, the cost of an extended unplanned outage is potentially greater. The out-of-band network enables organizations to resolve problems faster, minimizing downtime, and streamlines new deployments and upgrades. Out-of-band management tools also eliminate the time and expense of “truck rolls” to maintain equipment in offsite data centers, colocation facilities and remote offices.

Nevertheless, many organizations have balked at the idea of implementing network infrastructure that’s used only in the event of failure. Ideally, the out-of-band network would never be used, making it difficult to justify the expense.

Today, however, out-of-band has gained new relevance for large enterprises and service providers. These organizations have invested in advanced infrastructure management and automation tools to streamline their operations. Automation in particular has huge advantages, not only for reducing the amount of effort involved in managing devices but also for minimizing errors in device configuration. In a recent survey by Dimensional Research, 45 percent of respondents said that human error caused many if not most network outages.

However, infrastructure management and automation solutions require a network connection to the device. Even the most sophisticated tools are useless if the production network is unavailable, or if the device itself has not yet been configured.

ZPE Systems has pioneered next-generation technology that leverages out-of-band management to support today’s management and automation sophisticated tools. ZPE’s NodeGrid platform is a software-defined infrastructure solution that enables the consolidation of IT management software, providing one tool for access and control of physical and virtual devices.

More significantly, NodeGrid gives administrators access to a device from the moment it’s installed in a rack and powered on. NodeGrid enables zero-touch provisioning through automatic discovery of new devices, and makes it possible to extend automation based upon actionable, real-time data.

ZPE calls this technology open infrastructure management, and it represents a new philosophy and value proposition. Because administrators can use one vendor-neutral solution to deploy, manage, repair and decommission devices through their console ports, the out-of-band network becomes an integral part of the day-to-day operational environment.

Open infrastructure management is giving new life to the out-of-band concept by providing streamlined access to IT equipment. Let us show you how ZPE’s NodeGrid platform can help you maximize the value of your management and automation tools.


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