With so many console servers in the market, choosing one can be a daunting task. We’ve put together this article to help you decide by highlighting the top considerations in selecting the right console server for your needs.
Top considerations in selecting the right console server:
In what environment are you using the console server? (i.e. In a data center? In remote offices? Network closets? Test lab?)
In our experience, the environment will determine some of the feature requirements.
What are you connecting the console server to? Is it mostly Linux servers? Or network equipment?
There might be the need for specific adapters depending on the target devices and brand of console server. On Linux servers, there is also a need to redirect the BIOS messages to the console port.
How many total ports do you need? And, how many ports per device?
This will depend on how you are racking your equipment. In general, the higher the port density the less expensive it will be per port.
Do you need port buffering?
This is an important feature for troubleshooting and automation. It captures the output of the console port continuously even if you are not connected on that port. Also, what port log storage options do you need? The options range from a local storage for log files to Syslog to NFS. How are log files created and stored? And, how can you access these files?
Do you need multi-user read and write functionality to the same port?
Customers use this functionality for training purposes, collaboration across geographic locations, and to speed up troubleshooting.
Do you need a built-in modem or GPRS/CDMA?
This is particularly important at mission critical facilities where external modems and phone jacks are not readily available.
Should you use the dual power supply model?
Since the console server might be your back door/emergency access to your infrastructure, redundancy is very important.
Do you need dual network ports?
Are they configurable for fail-over or parallel operation?
How secure do you need the console server to be?
What are the security options available? Does it support SSHv2? Centralized authentication to LDAP or RADIUS?
My servers are mostly virtual now.
How do I access the virtual console port?
Do you or will you have too many console servers to manage?
Some console servers support centralized access and management.
Do you need the CLI to be friendly and scriptable? Is there a menu system?
This is important for datacenter and lab managers who prefer working with the command line over the Web GUI. Also, it can speed up your configuration, troubleshooting, and test cycles.
Have you considered integrated power management?
Would it be beneficial for you to control the power state of target devices from the console session? Which power strips do you normally use? Which power strips support this functionality and with which console servers?
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