A Conversation with Rick Plessner

At Opengear, we know that being a network administrator is tough work and no one understands this better than industry veteran and Opengear Sales Engineer, Rick Plessner. Rick’s been with Opengear for three years but has worked in OOB space for over 20 years and understands the daily issues that network administrators are dealing with like configuring a 9-slot core switch or determining certain subnets that aren’t properly being routed through a mesh remote site VPN configuration.

Opengear devices are here to take some of that unnecessary work off of your plate. How do solutions that ensure reliability, convenience and immediacy sound? I sat down with Rick to better understand just how how Opengear devices do this.

1. When you speak with potential customers on what could make their lives easier, how do they respond?

More time, more resources.  Although Opengear can’t make more time or force your company to hire more folks, we can still help.  We help network admins re-coup wasted time and turn that into useable time for them to do other things. We can also make it feel like they have more resources, by allowing them or their peers to be in more than one place at a time.

Take for example that dreaded call at 3 am. What to do? Where to start? Getting a plan and moving on it all takes time and that’s just the beginning of identifying the source of an outage at at site that could be located hundreds of miles away. Location of sites really plays a big role in the response time. For example, getting to and accessing a site on AoA depending on the time of day, can take hours. Getting across town, clearing security to finally arrive in front of the gear.  All that time is lost and troubleshooting hasn’t even started yet!  Now, let’s not even mention did you bring the right cables or adapters etc. Network administrators are very busy and have so many things that need to be prioritized.  Spending hours in transit to identify issues is an unnecessary task that Opengear provides a solution to using Smart Out-of-Band technology.

2. So we understand the challenges network admins face, what exactly about Opengear products help with these?

Opengear products are all about providing reliable access when its needed.  We can have always on cellular connection, or for added security have it be always off, and only come up when you SMS our device with the activation string. As soon as a problem occurs, the fire drills start and it’s all hands-on deck – that is if you don’t have Smart OOB. If there’s an outage at a site, troubleshooting can all occur remotely with Opengear.

Using our solutions, network administrators are able to get eyes at the other end of the circuit by using secure cellular to get into the site and get connected into the routers, switches, firewall’s console ports as if you were physically in front of the equipment. We can also manage 3rd party intelligent PDUs, UPSs and our own environmental monitoring with temp/humidity and some dry contacts (water detect, door contacts) giving you critical data and control, all while not having to leave your home or office.  Once you have visibility, they can determine if it’s something that they can fix or if a call has to be placed to the provider of the WAN circuit.

Smart OOB allows them to react to, troubleshoot, and come up with the quickest and correct response without wasting the transit time.  It also ensures that if you do have to go on site, you know what hardware to bring to fix the issue.

3. What is one of the biggest concerns network admins have when thinking about relying on OOB?

There’s always a concern when it comes to security, especially with accessibility and out-of-band which is understandable. I explain that our Smart OOB addresses these concerns. Our cellular connectivity has several options that the carriers provide to us.  We initially discuss the public access as it provides the most flexibility, but also always raises an eyebrow (as it should) from the security side of the house.

With Opengear, we can control when that cellular connection is up by using failover options as well as putting the control of the cell connection in the hands of the customer allowing them to create a whitelist group of users that can SMS our device to bring up and down the circuit when needed.

We can also get more secure types of connections from the carrier as well, such as a Carrier grade NAT cell connection that blocks all inbound connections.  This allows us to make outbound IPSEC/VPN connections back to the core network allowing customers bi-directional comms with the site.  Finally, you can request a Private VLAN cell connection from the carrier.  The carrier will set up an isolated network that has no inbound or outbound connectivity by default.  The network would be accessed by leasing a dedicated MPLS up to the carrier and use that circuit to connect into your remote cell interfaces.

All of these types of cell connections can be additionally secured by using our onboard firewall, Brute force protection, and AAA authentication using Radius/TACACS/LDAP, including 2 factor authentication using RSA, DUO etc.

4. What else do they want to know about cellular?

A lot of times customers want to do more than just OOB over the cell.  Sometimes they want to be able to have users at the remote site, use the cellular as a backup internet connection, or backup circuit to corporate allowing them to stay operational while the WAN circuit issues are resolved.  We do that too!  With our failover to cellular (F2C) functionality, you can seamlessly have users connect through the local router and use the Opengear as a cellular gateway keeping critical data moving over IPSec/VPN or just a raw internet connection.

5. At the end of a demo, what is the one thing you want people to know?

Opengear devices give you a plan when it comes to dealing with network outages.  Having a plan offers organizations peace of mind by providing reliable remote connectivity which allows you to deal with issues quickly and cleanly.  This saves you and your customers time and money.  Simply said, it allows you to be anywhere in seconds as if you were physically there, to ensure your remote sites stay up and running.

 

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