Traditionally, all network and local systems management took place on-site. This works out great for a small, in house operation. However when a business starts growing or corporations begin interlinking with suppliers, distant factories, agencies, or branch offices, administrators begin to realize the need for remote access so they can perform upgrades, troubleshooting, and system maintenance. Now, a console server, also called “con server,” groups together tasks and equipment for better access and control. Building on contributions by Tom Fine and Purdue University, various info tech companies have added on features to this integrative technology. Later support came for TCP/IP, SSL, PAM, UDS, and a variety of other modifications and upgrades. Today, console server technology has become so streamlined, it is a virtual plug and play device–only minutes out of the box to full functionality.
A con server allows users to access various consoles through one main point of entry. Accessible through LAN or a network with SSH or Telnet, this server connects via serial ports to modems, servers, and routers on both small and large systems (some console servers allow up to 48 connections). Administrators will find such a server to be readily compatible with either a Windows, Linux, or Unix server. With encryption, a console server creates a secure environment for network operations personnel to access any device they might service on a given system or network through the internet or other remote connection. Such out of band reach reduces down time for a business’s network and gives information technology professionals instant access to the consoles and operations of every permissible device on a system.
A con server is a money conserver. Since it reduces down time, disarms potentially costly situations with frustrated clients, and can prevent many problems before they start, most data conscious companies are opting for this necessary installation. While some shade tree IT guys may build a daisy-chain type of console server from components for their personal uses or for a low-tech system, the best products offer remote access through encryption, password authentication, and user-friendly features. Now there is no need to call the maintenance man to see if he can get your system up and running while waiting on IT to arrive. Before he puts away his mop and squeegee, the network operations center will have remotely accessed your network and begun taking corrective measures. Even when your internet connection has gone down, the consoles may be accessed through a dial-in modem. Continual logs keep track of all that occurs on a network, sending out emails and keeping detail records when things begin to go amiss. No corporation or other data-heavy business dare be left behind without the con server technology that will keep them on top of the game.
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