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Out-of-Band management provides enterprises with secure access to critical devices, even during a disruption. When was the last time you had an outage? Everyone’s gotten that call at 3 AM telling them that a server or a network device is down. Driving or even flying to a data center or remote site can be time consuming and expensive, with just one hour of downtime costing an average of $260,000 per hour.[1] The site could be far and without the proper network visibility, they might not have what’s needed to remediate the problem. An Out-of-band network solves that challenge.

In-Band Management

In-Band management involves managing network devices through protocols such as https, web browser, telenet or SSH, administering the network via the LAN. Data and control commands travel across the same network route which means it has the same security vulnerabilities as the data plane. If that occurs, engineers could be locked out of the management plane. When an organization relies on their production network to manage their everyday network, if a disruption occurs, critical devices can’t be accessed, which puts business at a standstill.

Many enterprises that aren’t using an Out-of-Band management system are reliant on Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines. Cost and reliability are some of the main reasoning in moving from this solution because maintaining these copper lines for carriers is expensive. Since 2018, the major carriers are no longer installing or maintaining existing POTS lines. This means that services and maintenance prices, which are already costly, may increase.[2] Any IT team that needs to maintain POTS lines is faced with expenses incurred from purchasing everything needed for onsite hardware. On average, it can cost between $50 and $100 a month for one POTS line, keep in mind, you’ll need two.[3] These are just a few reasons why organizations are looking at alternate, more reliable solutions to provide network resilience.

Out-of-Band Management and Failover To Cellular

Out-of-Band management provides a secure, remote connection to IT network environments during outages or disruptions in communications to the primary WAN/LAN connection. This is accomplished through the use of serial console servers (sometimes called terminal servers) which provide an alternate path of remediation for critical network devices through a separate management plane, often through a 4G LTE cellular connection. This ensures organizations with uninterrupted availability and network resilience. Implementing Out-of-Band management is simple, it’s done by placing console servers at each location and connecting them to routers, switches, and other key hardware.

Out-of-Band provides presence and proximity to these devices, with an appliance at every compute location, physically connected to critical network devices at the site. The independent management plane provides the core team with secure access to equipment remotely. This can be used for Day One, everyday management, and during network events. Remote equipment such as routers, switches, and servers are accessed through the management plane, without the need of directly accessing the device’s production IP address, also it is independent of the primary ISP connection that an organization uses. It is completely separate from the production network and allows engineers to monitor and manage devices without relying on the data plane.

Why You Need An Out-of-Band Network

So what are some other reasons why an enterprise would want an alternate way to access their equipment? There are a few reasons:

Security: Breaches are increasing, and a threat to organizations in every industry. If all of the administration or management ports are connected to the production network and an attack occurs, they can try to access your IT infrastructure. Whereas if the port is connected to an Out-of-Band management system, the LAN can’t access any administration consoles on that equipment. Since it separates the user and management traffic, engineers can lock down parts of the network, restrict access, and secure the management plane.

Business Continuity: If an incoming network feed is compromised – maybe a backhoe cuts it, and an organization’s ISP connection goes down –  how do business functions continue without being impacted? Out-of-Band management ensures that a tech doesn’t need to be sent onsite and remediation can be done remotely. Combined with 4G LTE, enterprises have a secure, alternate access path and Failover to Cellular provides the bandwidth necessary to ensure processes continue to operate during a disruption.

Enterprises are constantly looking at IT teams to cut costs and still provide always-on network availability. The initial expenses incurred during the rollout of Out-of-Band management will pay for themselves once deployed. Organizations will have better availability, reliability, and dependability, all at a fraction of the cost of POTS lines.

So let’s go back to our original question, when you’re woken up with a phone call in the middle of the night, how are you addressing the issue? If you don’t have Out-of-Band, you’ll have to roll a truck, the cost of this is $1,000 or more per event. [1] This is costly and with current travel restrictions in place, getting on-site is even more time-consuming. Every minute the network is down, money is lost and there’s no business continuity.

Out-of-Band allows you to identify and remediate the issue remotely, reducing the need for a truck roll. The increased visibility and remote management capabilities will help make your life easier, without having to rely on antiquated modems. Allowing for configurations to uploaded remotely, powering cycling routers and resetting equipment engineers can do all necessary tasks from one central location. You need a network that is always on and constantly available, go here to learn how Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band management can help.