A dongle liability!

Network connection speeds in the 21st century have skyrocketed, whether on wired networks, wireless networks or mobile networks. The new 4G-LTE standard is a thousand times faster than 2G with up to a hundred times less latency. But how do you exploit next generation mobile data for accessing, monitoring and recovering critical IT resources?

Instead of the slow telemetry applications of 2G, modern 4G provides the basis for reliable primary wired-network fail-over, IP-VPNs over cellular, cloud-based end-point registration and management. If you’re a DIY engineer and want to create a hardware platform with fast cellular support, you may start with an embedded Linux system/board with a consumer-grade 3G or 4G USB carrier modem. But what does this platform really provide?

For starters, the consumer-grade USB 3G/4G dongles have a life span of barely 6 months, before vendor replacement, making a consistent roll-out almost impossible. Device driver support is scant and poorly featured and embedded antennas offer poor performance (some have fragile external antenna options), especially for fixed location devices (e.g. equipment racks). Cheap dongles sometimes overheat or cause the port to shut down from over-current conditions.

How reliable is such a platform for monitoring or providing fail-over for critical infrastructure? Using consumer grade products can create a platform that is likely to fail more often than the monitored equipment or site itself does. Instead, Opengear advocate that out of band smart management appliances should have dedicated embedded 3G and 4G connectivity complete with relevant RF and carrier certifications.

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Without proper consideration to cellular connectivity, reliability and extended features such as cellular fail-over and VPN support, the cost saving from a dongle option can end up as a painful liability in the event of a failure!

What do you think?

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