Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Looking to buy a console server?


Comparing the business cost of using console servers versus local automation
When the network and dependent systems are down, orders can’t be placed, employees are less productive, and costly resources have to be diverted to fix problems. Traditional network and system management tools—although good at collecting and reporting system data—still do not proactively fix problems once they occur. The result is that people are still required to perform most of the work over console servers on remote networks.

Understanding the business case for remote network support is based on a risk/return calculation that takes into account the cost of downtime compared to the mix of resources spent to avoid downtime. The following chart shows that how much you spend on your resource mix doesn’t always equate to the lowest risk. Defining the resource mix:

A risk/cost comparison for different remote management strategies ranging from do-nothing to implementing a local management platform.



  • Automation | Whether scripts that run over the network, or the automated management and recovery processes deployed on an Uplogix appliance, automation saves human effort, and reduces risk by taking human error out of the equation.
  • Monitoring Software | Software that uses SNMP polling to monitor a wide variety of network and device statistics. Reliant on a network connection to the equipment and networks it monitors.
  • Console/OOB | Connecting remotely to devices over the console port, providing base level access for management. Out-of-band (OOB) access is an alternate path to connect to equipment other than the primary network.
  • Onsite IT Staff | Trained people. Whether direct employees or through break/fix contracts, this is the cost of assigning a human to solve a problem at a site. Along with high costs come issues like lack of coverage during night or holiday hours, plus the possibility of travel costs if they are unable to access a site remotely.
Running the numbers
For companies administering their own networks, quantifying downtime is more than just the infrastructure management costs (both planned and unplanned), but also the opportunity costs of the network being down (again, both planned and unplanned). In this example we’ll use statistics provided by an Uplogix customer that is a managed service provider (MSP), because the cost of network downtime is so clearly articulated by SLAs with their customers. Some of the categories listed represent an aggregated cost.

For a more detailed analysis, see the Uplogix white paper: Why ‘dumb’ console servers are bleeding your company’s bottom line, available at uplogix.com/console-servers-are-dumb.