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Opengear console server for the dynamic datacenter

If we had an opportunity to visit a typical datacenter, we'd see mainframes, midrange systems, industry standard systems, storage systems, air conditioning equipment, power supplies and just about every other type of computing equipment. Oh yes, don't forget the cappachino machine for the operations staff.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

If we had an opportunity to visit a typical datacenter, we'd see mainframes, midrange systems, industry standard systems, storage systems, air conditioning equipment, power supplies and just about every other type of computing equipment. Oh yes, don't forget the cappachino machine for the operations staff. Each of these pieces of equipment (save the cappachino machine) has a console display showing its operational status. Each piece of equipment must be managed to keep things working properly.

Much of the industry's focus has been on creating a virtual environment that would allow workloads to be dynamically managed to make optimal use of the systems in the datacenter. For the most part, however, there is little thought given to similar management of the physical systems in the very same datacenter. Each of the suppliers has developed its own approach to physical management. There are few standards that cover working with the console interface to all of these types of equipment, that management task can be quite inefficient and staff-intensive.

Opengear's Todd Rychecky spent some time with me recently to bring me up to date on what is company is doing to address this issue.

Here's Opengear's position on the challenge of physical management

Opengear designs and manufactures next generation console server solutions for secure remote access and control of network devices such as routers, switches, servers, firewalls, uninterruptable power supplies, power distribution units and environmental monitoring devices.

Opengear's open source platform gives network managers and system integrators the most flexible, extensible, console server solution on the market today with integrated console server and management software, for serial console ports, service processors, power solutions and environmental monitoring. Opengear provides network managers the virtual hands to access networking equipment in remote offices, data centers and colocations all over the world. Equipment can be remotely configured, rebooted and power cycled. Opengear’s extensive support for out-of-band management solutions ensures our customer access and control even when the main network is down. The result is a drastic reduction in the need for expensive on-site technical staff, on-site visits and an accompanying acceleration to problem resolution and critical network availability.

Opengear has recently embedded trusted open source power tools into their console server line; Network UPS Tools (NUT) and Powerman.  NUT was sponsored by Eaton and Powerman was an open source project with Lawrence Livermore, gives Opengear console servers the added benefit of in-band or out-of-band management of 1,000 different UPS and PDU products from over 100 vendors.  Access to these devices is via serial, USB or SNMP.  This vendor-neutral approach provides value to sys admins, network managers and CIO’s in their heterogenous network environments and limited rack space for multiple management appliances.  These open source power management tools are the most widely deployed power management solution on the market today. Opengear’s EMD5000 environmental monitoring device enables you to remotely monitor environmental conditions using a standard web browser.  Options include temp, humidity, vibration sensor, door contact sensor, smoke detector/alarm and water leak detectors.  This device also plugs directly into a serial port on the Opengear console server.

The Opengear platform runs on an ARM processor, the same technology used in the Blackberry, Palm and Nintendo therefore it is very efficient and powerful technology.  uClinux is our operating system.

Snapshot analysis

Although the staff's cappuchino machine wasn't mentioned in the list of systems and equipment that can be managed by Opengear's products, it seems that just about every other component of a dynamic datacenter is in their list. As organizations look for ways to squeeze every last bit of excess cost out of their datacenters while still maintaining operational integrity, products such as those offered by Opengear ought to be working side by side with those systems and equipment.

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