To reduce the time consuming nature of dispatching engineers to its data centre sites to make configuration changes or troubleshoot issues, Secura Hosting has deployed Opengear Smart Out-of-Band console server technology which has improved its management capabilities and led to a return on investment in just seven months.
Secura supports critical applications and systems with secure, scalable, high-performance virtual private cloud hosting, delivered from a number of Tier 3+ UK data centres. Following the acquisition of the business in 2014 and two years of rapid growth and infrastructure now within three separate data centre locations; Secura began examining its processes to see where it could gain some operational benefits, while ensuring it had the infrastructure management capabilities in place to match its projected growth.
“One of the areas for improvement that we identified was around infrastructure management and maintenance across our data centre locations,” explains Dan Nichols, CTO for Secura Hosting. “As highly secure environments, gaining rapid access to site especially out of hours is not easy and the amount of travel time and inconvenience of having to visit sites to carry out tasks like firmware updates, patches and other configuration changes which require console access was really inefficient.”
Nichols evaluated a number of remote access technologies to help them reduce the time consuming process of sending its engineers to remote locations before selecting Opengear, “As an organisation, we tend to select technologies that are both reliable and flexible and after extensive evaluation, it was clear that Opengear Smart-OOB console server offered a well-rounded feature set that was easy to deploy while working seamlessly with our processes.”
Secura has deployed Opengear CM7100 at each data centre site delivering up to 48 serial ports for out-of-band management of network and server devices. These include core switches, firewalls, security appliances and storage arrays including its high performance Compellent SANs.
Each CM7100 is built for continuous data centre operation and includes dual Gigabit Ethernet and dual AC power supplies. To meet security requirements, every device supports AAA including Active Directory and TACACS+ with FIPS 140-2 validated encryption for military grade applications and encryption of sensitive management traffic via HTTPS, SSH and VPN, including OpenVPN and IPsec. In addition, each device keeps an audit trail with all session activity logging to embedded 4GB local storage or remote log server for troubleshooting and compliance.
“Opengear provides us with the ability to remotely access low level management functions of our network and storage elements at each site to carry out key tasks such as firmware updates, patches and other configuration changes that cannot be carried out over the normal management platforms,” explains Nichols, “By using Opengear, we effectively save a couple of days each quarter in management time and in the event of any unexpected issues, we have an effective out-of-band method of quickly troubleshooting any physical device at any data centre location.”
Nichols estimates its investment in Opengear has cut site visits by 30% effectively paying for the upgrade in just 7 months while ancillary benefits such as full audit trail on configuration changes have proven valuable in enforcing its rigid security policies.