Out-of-Band Management – Part 1: What, Why, Where and When?

This blog is the first in a series that looks at the challenges and options for Out-of-Band Management (OOBM). The goal of this blog series is to: 1) help IT managers keep up with the latest changes and options for OOBM, 2) discuss when, why and how to use each OBM option, 3) review the most pragmatic approaches for the various OOBM uses cases, and 4) how OOBM networks are deployed in production data centers and remote or branch office environments.

Every IT manager knows that at some point, IT equipment will be offline and need a way to be brought back online. Outages are a fact of life in the world of IT infrastructure: some are planned, some are not, and sometimes Mother Nature just decides to give us a test.

According to the Ponemon Institute, 91% of IT infrastructures experience some level of unexpected outage.[1] Unplanned downtime is expensive in terms of revenue lost, customer dissatisfaction, and repair costs.

What is Out-of-Band Management and Why Should the IT Admin Care About It?

The simplest definition is that OOBM provides access and control of IT assets outside of the production network.[2] In most cases, this production network is based on Ethernet, but it could also include devices using InfiniBand and fibre channel.

As the name would imply, the primary use of OOBM is access and control of IT infrastructure when the production network is unavailable, such as cases involving unplanned downtime. OOBM networks can be 100% dedicated or leveraged hybrid models. The type of assets that require OOBM can include the mission critical routers, switches, KVMs, servers, storage, and appliances that serve as the backbone of the IT infrastructure.

Where and When do you need Out-of-Band Management?IT_Downtime_Unaffordable

OOBM is a core capability that every data center and remote site should have to improve overall performance, support upgrades and local network repairs, and reduce response times for outages. However, not every IT asset needs to have OOBM management. So when you are planning your OOBM requirements, you need to consider the following questions:

  1. What equipment requires 24/7 visibility and access?
  2. What and how many OOBM connectivity options (local and remote) do I require?
  3. How can I use OOBM to reduce or avoid sending staff to remote sites?
  4. What type of security does my remote management solution require?
  5. What type of logging and analysis data do I require?
  6. Do I need to provide disaster recovery support via remote management?
  7. Does the device on the OOBM network require a CLI (command line interface) or a GUI (graphical user interface)?
  8. How can I scale and expand my OOBM management solution in the future?
  9. Do I need the bandwidth to upload data, firmware, or other software?

Just as not all OOBM requirements are the same, neither are all OOBM solutions the same. In Part 2 of this series, I will discuss how OOBM is deployed in various environments.

About the Author, Jeff BlytherIT Infrastructure Management

Jeffrey Blyther is a field application engineer for Lantronix, Inc., a specialized networking company providing smart IoT and M2M connectivity solutions. Jeff has extensive experience in a wide range of technologies, such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, cellular, datacenter infrastructure, networking protocols, and serial communications.

Since 1989, Lantronix has been at the forefront of providing IT administrators with innovative IT management solutions. Lantronix is the manufacturer of the SLC 8000, the industry’s first advanced modular console manager, which delivers secure, scalable, and high availability OOBM and robust management capabilities. Today, the SLC 8000 is used in some of the world’s most demanding IT infrastructure environments, including Fortune 500 data center and test and development environments.

Learn more about the SLC 8000 here.

[1] 2013 Cost of Data Center Downtime Study – Ponemon Institute

[2] http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/tip/How-to-plan-an-out-of-band-network-management-system