An Enterprise Solution for Out-of-Band Management via 3G/4G/Cellular

Challenge:

The task of managing network elements at remote LANs accessed via 3G/4G/Cellular often presents an entirely different set of challenges than are typically seen in other out-of-band management applications. Although, devices located behind a cellular router require exactly the same remote power control and console access support functions generally found in all out-of-band management applications, the difficulty of locating and organizing devices behind remote cellular routers often presents several unique problems not found in other out-of-band management applications.

The sources of these unique challenges usually stem from two factors: the inability of many enterprise management solutions to recognize network devices behind cellular routers due to port forwarding strategies employed at the remote LAN and the sheer size and complexity of many enterprise LAN/WAN applications.

In applications that involve remote LAN segments that are only accessible via cellular broadband, port forwarding or Port Address Translation (PAT) enables a single IP address to provide access to multiple devices on the remote LAN. Although this is typically not a concern in smaller network applications, in larger, enterprise-wide network applications port forwarding allows administrators to both conserve available IP addresses and add a layer of security to protect devices on the remote LAN.

When the cellular router uses port numbers to address the various devices on its associated LAN, this makes it easier for administrators to restrict user access to specific ports and devices and also makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to find devices on the LAN. Unfortunately though, port forwarding or PAT can also make it more difficult for many enterprise management solutions to locate devices behind the cellular router.

While enterprise management programs have no problem finding the cellular router that supports devices on a given LAN, many enterprise solutions do not include the ability to search for devices at ports on a 3G/4G/cellular router. In cases like this, the enterprise management program will not be able to communicate with devices at ports via the cellular router because the program will not be able to find them on the remote LAN as shown in the figure below.

Searching for WTI Devices at Ports on a LAN behind a cellular router

The sheer size and complexity of an enterprise network can also make it extremely difficult to find specific support devices such as console servers and switched PDUs when a given switch or router becomes unresponsive. While locating the correct console server or switched PDU is relatively simple on a small network that only includes a dozen or so devices, it can be a much more daunting task in cases where the network includes dozens or hundreds of such devices scattered across a wide network infrastructure.

When a network element on a remote LAN in Peoria suddenly refuses to communicate, administrators at your NOC need fast access to the specific switched PDU used to reboot that network element and the console server that provides access to console port command functions on that element. The longer it takes to find the correct console server and switched PDU, the higher the loss in revenue due to downtime, missed opportunities and unavailable services.


Solution:

WTI’s WMU Enterprise Management Software eliminates the problem of discovering devices via 3G/4G/Cellular routers by offering a convenient search feature that allows the WMU to easily identify compatible WTI units, such as the RSM-8R8-1-DE, which provides both remote reboot control and console access. When a 3G/4G/Cellular router at remote network equipment sites use port forwarding or PAT for communication with connected devices, the WMU can search for compatible WTI units within a range of both IP addresses and port numbers. As an added bonus, the vender neutral design of the WMU allows it to be used with a wide range of cellular router brands and models.

Discovering WTI Devices at Ports on a LAN behind a cellular router

In order to ensure an accurate inventory of WTI devices at each LAN site, the WMU can search a range of port numbers associated with the IP address for the cellular router. The WMU will query each port number in the defined search range, looking for a response from a WTI device. When a WTI device responds to the WMU’s search query, the WMU will note the port number and type of WTI device found and collect other information associated with that device. Once devices have been discovered and added to the WMU’s inventory in this manner, the WMU can be used to control power switching and reboot functions at the remote LAN and to provide out-of-band access to console ports on critical network elements at the remote LAN.

In large enterprise networks, the WMU simplifies the process of finding specific WTI devices by offering unique tagging and grouping features. Once WTI devices have been discovered and added to inventory, administrators can assign a descriptive tag to each device in order to denote location, function, departmental ownership or other criteria regarding the device. After WTI devices have been tagged, the WMU’s search and filtering functions can be employed to quickly locate the exact WTI device needed to reboot an unresponsive network element or access console port command functions. To further simplify the task of finding the specific WTI device required to remedy a specific problem with a specific device, users can also assign descriptive tags to each switched outlet and serial console port on WTI devices.

In addition to descriptive tags, the WMU also allows WTI devices to be sorted into groups to further speed the process of locating a specific WTI device within a large inventory of devices. In order to minimize downtime and cut the time required to find the correct WTI device responsible for out-of-band console access or reboot functions for a malfunctioning network element, WTI devices can also be grouped according to location, function or other criteria.


Results:

The WMU Enterprise Management Solution provides your NOC with a centralized control interface that can be used to discover and manage WTI devices at remote network equipment sites, even when those devices are located on a LAN behind a 3G/4G/Cellular router. The WMU can easily find WTI devices on remote LANs by searching ranges of IP addresses and port numbers, providing an ideal solution for cellular out-of-band management and ensuring access to remote power reboot control and console access functions when they are needed. The WMU’s vender-neutral design allows use with a wide variety of different cellular modem brands and models.

In applications that involve large numbers of WTI devices scattered across a vast network infrastructure, the WMU allows administrators to assign descriptive tags to each unit or sort units into groups, based on location, departmental ownership, function or any other criteria. This drastically cuts the time required to locate and control a specific WTI console server or switched PDU in emergencies. In addition to providing out-of-band access to console port command and power reboot functions, the WMU also enables NOC personnel to manage user accounts and firmware updates on multiple remote WTI devices, without the need to address each device individually.

In order to help your NOC keep tabs on conditions and events at remote network equipment sites, the WMU also serves as a centralized collection point for alarm messages generated by WTI devices. When high temperatures, power supply irregularities, unresponsive network elements and other signs of trouble are detected by a WTI device, the WMU will indicate that an alarm has been generated at the WTI unit. This allows NOC personnel to detect and assess potential symptoms of trouble before they have time to evolve into genuine problems.

The ability to find devices at ports located on remote LANs behind 3G/4G/cellular routers, coupled with remote power control and console access help to make the WMU Enterprise software the ideal solution for cellular out-of-band management. The convenience and efficiency of the WMU is further enhanced by the fact that it’s included free with all WTI console server and switched PDU products. So if your existing network infrastructure already includes WTI out-of-band management tools, you already have this valuable tool at your disposal.



Loading...