How to Plan Your Out-of-Band Management Requirements for Remote Data Center Management

It is a fact of life in the world of remote data center management that networks go offline and they need to be brought back online. However, unscheduled downtime is costly, not just in terms of revenue lost due to operations being suspended, but also in terms of repair costs and customer dissatisfaction. As far back as 2014, Gartner estimated the average cost of downtime at $5,600 per minute, so you need a solution to keep your downtime to the absolute minimum.

Why OOBM?

In simple terms, out-of-band management (OOBM) offers an alternative channel of communication for accessing and managing your production network’s infrastructure assets. The production network is usually based on Ethernet connection, whereas OOBM relies on console servers, cellular, plain old telephone services (POTS), broadband, and sometimes multi-protocol label switching (MPLS).

OOBM’s primary purpose is to ensure round-the-clock uptime of your network. Network infrastructure assets that rely on OOBM include mission-critical routers, switches, servers, storage, and telecom appliances that are vital to an organization’s communication framework.

The advantages of OOBM systems include:

  • Minimal downtime
  • Accurate testing
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Enhanced real-time system functionality

The Best Approach to OOBM

OOBM is an ideal solution for maintaining your network’s uptime, but to plan an efficient OOBM system, your networking team needs to decide which assets require visibility at all times and just how much information they need to see to fulfill survivability and testing requirements without costing the organization a massive investment in time and resources.

Questions You Need to Ask Before Adopting Your OOBM Solution

To ensure the most appropriate OOBM system, networking teams need to find answers to the following questions:

  1. What kind of visibility do I need?
    The first area of research your networking team needs to cover when planning your OOBM solution is to determine which equipment will need 24/7 visibility and access. This will vary depending on the company. For example, you might need access to assets that have graphical user interface (GUI) based operating systems, or you may have applications that you cannot control without full visibility.
  2. What kind of access do I need?
    After you have determined the level of visibility your OOBM solution needs to provide, you should look at access. Perhaps you will only need access to command line interface (CLI), or your network’s operability may rely on you being able to access NICs (network interface controllers), drives, SANs (storage area networks), and other peripherals.
  3. Is the ability to transfer data a requirement?
    Whether or not you need to be able to transfer data is a very significant consideration when it comes to the cost of your out-of-band network management system. Scenarios in which you may need to transfer data include code and security updates or pushing patches. Make sure you determine which data needs to be transferred and what media you will use to present it to the managed assets.
  4. What type of security does my remote management solution require?
    OOBM offers a certain level of intrinsic security because it works on a separate plane from that used by data traffic and in-band management traffic. This separation allows it to keep working even when equipment malfunctions or malicious attacks take place. Security can be reinforced by means of improved switch security. In other words, a switch can be configured to restrict management access to the management port only. This means that the data ports cannot be targeted by malicious attempts to gain entry.
  5. Do I need to provide disaster recovery support via remote management?
    For organizations with outlets distributed across a wide geographical area, IT engineers need to be able to provide remote support, but when remote systems crash, traditional remote support is useless. This is where OOBM comes into its own, reducing expenditure on travel and on-site troubleshooting. An IT engineer can provide remote disaster recovery support via the OOBM console.
  6. How can I ensure my OOBM solution is scalable?
    No organization is static: requirements change over time, so your OOBM solution needs to keep up. Depending on the kind of organization you run, you may need to prioritize scalability in your OOBM solution. There is little point in implementing an OOBM solution that is fit for purpose today, only to find your company has outgrown it in a year.

The Ideal OOBM Solution

Once you have answered these questions as they relate to your organization, you are in a position to introduce an OOBM solution.

Effective OOBM is possible only when all of its elements operate in an integrated system that you can access via a single, consolidated view, such as that provided by Device42. Ensure that the tools of your system of choice provide consolidated access, change management, and configuration management and the capacity to manage diverse IT assets connected to these out-of-band tools from a single consolidated view. The management software also needs to be flexible enough that it can be scaled up as your demands grow.

Need to plan your OOBM requirements? Contact Device 42 for guidance on the best approach to planning OOBM for your organization.