Dual WAN Out-of-Band Management for Oil and Gas Applications

A Dual WAN Console Server can provide tech support personnel with additional options for out-of-band access that aren’t generally available on console server products that include only one Ethernet Port. In addition to allowing remote access to console ports on routers and switches via both a primary, production network and a secondary, maintenance network, a Dual WAN Console server also simplifies the challenge of adding 3G/4G LTE cellular broadband access and satellite broadband access to your out-of-band management solution.

Network applications in the oil and gas industry and other distributed enterprises can often involve communication with hundreds of remote networked elements, scattered across a wide geographical area. When a critical device at a remote network site suddenly becomes unresponsive, IT personnel need to react quickly in order to restore vital network services before the outage disrupts production and in some cases, jeopardizes safety.

Not too long ago, the only way to deal with an equipment outage at a remote network site was to either send an IT team out on a costly, time-consuming truck roll to the remote site, or to maintain an equally expensive stock of spare hardware at the remote site which could (with any luck) be quickly deployed by often untrained on-site personnel. In addition to being both expensive and prone to unacceptable delays, these methods essentially limited troubleshooting activities to a reactive role, where IT personnel could only respond to problems after they had occurred rather than allowing the ability to anticipate potential problems and address them before they mushroom into small-scale disasters.

Fortunately though, the strategy of dealing with equipment emergencies at remote sites via truck rolls and on-site spare parts caches is quickly becoming a thing of the past. This is mainly due to a shift towards Out-of-Band Management (OOBM) solutions as a means to both correct problems at distant network equipment sites and monitor conditions at the site in order to detect nascent problems before they have a chance to interfere with production.

An Out-of-Band Management solution provides IT personnel with an effective means to deal with problems at remote network equipment installations, even when normal network communication is down. By providing alternative channels for communication, an Out-of-Band Management solution allows NOC personnel to troubleshoot problems with remote devices in order to restore communication via the primary network without the costs and delays inevitably associated with a physical service call.

When the Out-of-Band Management solution includes a console server with two 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Ports, (such as WTI’s DSM-E Series Dual WAN Console Servers,) a variety of different communication channels are available to access console port command functions on remote devices. For example, in addition to the dial-up access provided by conventional, single WAN console servers, a DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server also allows out-of-band communication via secondary network, 4G LTE cellular broadband or satellite broadband. This provides a perfect fit for oil and gas industry applications where dial-up, POTS communication is often unavailable.

This white paper will discuss several Out-of-Band Management strategies for remote oil and gas applications that rely on WTI’s DSM-E Series Dual WAN Console Servers to provide remote, out-of-band access to console port command functions on routers, switches and other network elements located at often out-of-the way sites such as refineries, pump jacks, metering stations and other pipeline support facilities. In addition, the white paper will also describe ways in which 4G LTE cellular broadband, satellite broadband communication, secondary network communication and dial-up can be used together in order to provide multiple Out-of-Band avenues for management and troubleshooting of network problems at distant network equipment sites.


4G LTE Cellular Broadband Based Out-of-Band Management for Pipeline Transfer Stations and Monitoring Stations

Challenge:

In LPG pipeline facilities such as Transfer Stations, Monitoring Stations and other pipeline support applications, network communication is often used to provide remote access to security cameras, gas analyzers, leak detectors and other devices. When problems with an on-site router or switch disrupt normal network communication, support personnel need an Out-of-Band Management solution to allow quick resolution of problems at the remote site, without the need for a truck roll or physical service call.

3G/4G/LTE Cellular Broadband Based Out-of-Band Management for Pipeline Transfer Stations and Monitoring Stations

Solution:

A WTI DSM-NM-E Series Dual WAN Console Server equipped with the 4G LTE Cellular Option is installed at the remote Transfer Station or Monitoring Station to allow out-of-band access via 3G/4G LTE cellular broadband, primary Ethernet connection and secondary Ethernet connection. In-band access to remote console ports is provided by the primary Ethernet connection and out-of-band access is provided by both the secondary Ethernet Connection and 4G LTE cellular broadband.

Under normal conditions, remote support personnel can employ the primary, in-band network connection to access console ports on peripheral devices such as gas analyzers and leak detectors. In the event of router or switch troubles that disrupt primary network communication, IT personnel can then connect to the DSM-NM-E via cellular broadband or secondary Ethernet connection in order to access console port command functions on the router or switch, (such as Cisco’s ISR Series Integrated Service Router.) This allows support personnel to run troubleshooting routines, re-load routing tables or perform other console port functions in order to restore primary network communication without the need to actually travel to the site in person.

Results:

Remote support personnel are able to create a secure connection to console ports on routers, switches and other devices at the site in order to address problems without a truck roll or physical service call. When problems at a remote site disrupt network communication, support personnel are still able to access console port command functions via 4G LTE Cellular Broadband or the secondary Ethernet connection.

In addition to providing two alternate channels for out-of-band access to console port command functions, the DSM-NM-E Dual WAN Console Server also includes monitoring and alarm functions that allow remote support personnel to keep tabs on factors such as rack temperature, power supply interruptions, unresponsive devices, loss of dial tone and other potential signs of trouble. When any of these factors exceed user-defined trigger levels, the DSM can immediately notify support personnel via email, text message or SNMP trap. In order to assist IT personnel with the diagnosis of long term problems at remote sites, the DSM-NM-E Dual WAN Console Server can also create a log that lists significant events, conditions and user activity at the remote site.


Satellite Broadband Based Out-of-Band Management for Pump Jack Sites

Challenge:

IT personnel at your network operations center need an out-of-band management solution for dealing with unresponsive networked elements at remote pump jack sites. When a router or switch at the pump jack site becomes unresponsive and disrupts in-band network communication, NOC personnel need a secure, reliable out-of-band channel that can be used to access console port command functions on the malfunctioning device in order to run diagnostic routines, re-load routing tables or execute troubleshooting commands to restore normal operation and reestablish network communication with the pump jack site.

Satellite Broadband Based Out-of-Band Management for Pump Jack Sites

Solution:

A DSM-E Series Dual WAN Console Server is deployed at the pump jack site and connected to serial console ports on routers, switches and any other managed devices at remote sites. In order to provide two alternatives for out-of-band communication, a satellite hub/gateway is connected to one of the DSM-E's two available 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Ports and a POTS line is connected to the DSM-E's internal, dial-up Modem. In-band communication is provided by a network cable connected to the DSM-E's other 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Port.

When a corrupted routing table or unresponsive switch at the remote pump jack site disrupts communication via network, IT support personnel can quickly establish a secure, authenticated out-of-band connection to the site via either satellite broadband or dial-up modem. Once an out-of-band connection to the DSM-E is established, support personnel can then access console port command functions on routers or switches at the site in order to restore in-band network communication. In addition, the DSM-E can also be connected to other peripheral devices at the pump jack site to provide remote, out-of-band access to console port functions on RISC devices, pressure sensors, leak detectors and other equipment.

Results:

When normal network communication with the remote pump jack is disrupted by a malfunctioning network element at the site, support personnel can establish a secure, out-of-band connection to the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server via satellite broad band or dial-up modem and then access console port command functions on any device connected to the DSM-E. This drastically cuts downtime and improves reliability by enabling your IT team to immediately address issues at remote sites without the costs and delays associated with a traditional truck roll or service call.

In addition to providing out-of-band access to console ports on routers and switches, (such as Cisco’s Catalyst 2960-X Series Switch,) the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server also allows easy access to console port command functions on other networked devices at the remote site. This simplifies the process of dealing with unresponsive peripheral devices such as leak detectors, pressure sensors and flow meters and also allows operators to trouble shoot security devices such as IP Cameras and intrusion detection systems.

When the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server is deployed in an equipment enclosure at the pump jack site, remote support personnel can also employ the DSM-E’s monitoring and alarm functions to track environmental conditions such as rack temperatures and also keep an eye on potentially noteworthy events such as power outages, unresponsive devices and loss of dial tone at the site. The DSM-E includes a powerful array of alarm functions that can be configured to track conditions and events and then generate alarms and create log records if conditions exceed user-defined trigger levels.


Redundant Network Access plus Dial-Up Out-of-Band communication for Refinery Applications

Challenge:

Your NOC is responsible for managing a series of refineries scattered across a wide geographical area. To cut the time required to respond to network emergencies at distant refineries, your IT support team needs to be able to access console port command functions on networked elements at refineries via both a primary/production network and a secondary/maintenance network. In order to ensure that IT personnel will be able to communicate with devices at refineries during network outages, dial-up, out-of-band access to console port command functions on devices at refineries is also required.

Redundant Network Access plus Dial-Up Out-of-Band communication for Refinery Applications

Solution:

A DSM-E Series Dual WAN Console Server is installed to provide support personnel with access to console port command functions at the remote network equipment site. The primary and secondary network cables are connected to the DSM-E's primary and secondary 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Ports and a POTS line is connected to the DSM-E's internal modem. The primary (production) network generally serves for in-band communication and the secondary (maintenance) network and dial-up connection provide out-of-band access.

When IT personnel at a centralized NOC need remote access to console ports on devices at the refinery, they can connect to the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server via the primary or secondary network; if network communication is down, your IT personnel can still access remote console ports via dial-up connection. If wireless communication is needed, then a 3G/4G/LTE WAN Gateway can be installed in place of the secondary network.

Results:

In addition to allowing in-band access to console port command functions on the router or switch, (such as Juniper’s ACX2100 Series Industrial Router,) via either the primary network or secondary network and out-of-band access via dial-up, this configuration can also be used to provide remote access to other devices at the refinery. For example, if devices such as process controllers, leak detectors and intrusion detection systems are cable connected to the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server, then remote support personnel can also access console port command functions on those devices.

When the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server is deployed in an out-of-band management application, this also provides monitoring and alarm functions that can help to keep an eye on conditions and events at the remote site. The DSM-E includes a versatile assortment of alarms that can be used to track rack temperatures, power supply irregularities, unresponsive devices, lack of dial tone at the POTS line and other indications of potential trouble. In addition to providing notification when an alarm is triggered, the DSM-E can also create a log that records significant conditions and events, plus user account activity.


4G LTE Cellular Broadband Based Out-of-Band Management for Compressor Stations and Metering Stations

Challenge:

Remote pipeline support facilities such as compressor stations and metering stations often include networked devices that collect data and monitor conditions at the site. When a router, switch or peripheral network element at a remote pipeline support station becomes unresponsive and disrupts normal network communication with the site, your IT Team needs out-of-band access to console port command functions on critical devices at the site in order to restore network access. Due to the critical nature of these pipeline support facilities, support personnel need two different channels for out-of-band management.

3G/4G/LTE Cellular Broadband Based Out-of-Band Management for Compressor Stations and Metering Stations

Solution:

Out-of-band access to console port command functions at remote pipeline facilities can be provided by a DSM-NM-E Series Dual WAN Console Server with the 4G LTE Cellular option installed in the remote equipment rack. The presence of two 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Ports allows the DSM-NM-E to be connected to both a primary Ethernet connection and a secondary Ethernet connection. The 4G LTE Cellular Option provides an additional channel for out-of-band access via a 4G LTE Cellular WAN Gateway at the NOC. If a malfunctioning switch or router at a metering station or compressor station disrupts normal primary network communication with the site, NOC personnel can still access console ports at the remote site in order to address router or switch problems and restore network communication without a truck roll or service call.

In addition to allowing remote access to console ports on switches and routers, (such as Juniper’s EX3300 Series Industrial Ethernet Switch,) the DSM-NM-E Dual WAN Console Server can also be connected to other peripheral elements at the site such as leak detection systems and intrusion detection systems in order to provide out-of-band access to console port command functions on those devices too.

Results:

Support personnel at your centralized NOC facility can quickly deal with network issues at compression stations and monitoring stations either via normal in-band network access via the primary Ethernet connection or, (in the event that the primary network is down,) via out-of-band 4G LTE Cellular broad band or secondary Ethernet connection. This provides two out-of-band management options for dealing with problems at the remote site and adds a layer of system redundancy, further reducing the likelihood of downtime.

In addition to providing both wireless and secondary Ethernet channels for out-of-band access, the DSM-NM-E Dual WAN Console Server also helps your IT team to track suspect conditions and events at remote pipeline facilities. The DSM-NM-E can monitor temperature levels, power supply interruptions, ping command failure and other potential signs of trouble and immediately notify support personnel when any of these factors exceeds user-defined trigger levels. All of these conditions and events can also be recorded to a time-stamped activity log which also tracks user access history and account activities.


Summary

WTI’s DSM-E Series Dual WAN Console Servers provide the ideal out-of-band management solution for oil and gas industry applications and other network installations that demand high availability and minimal downtime. The presence of a second 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Port increases available out-of-band communication options by allowing connection of a secondary Ethernet cable or Satellite Broadband Hub/Gateway in addition to primary network cable.

In addition to providing two 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet Ports and support for dial-up communication, the DSM-E Dual WAN Console Server also includes state-of-the art security and authentication features to ensure that access to sensitive console port functions is well protected from unauthorized access. The DSM-E's monitoring, alarm and event logging functions enable support personnel to track potentially significant events and conditions at remote sites, allowing your IT team to take a more proactive approach to management and anticipate future troubles rather than simply reacting to problems after they occur.




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