Branch Maintenance via Out-of-Band Management
Out-of-band management, aka OOBM, plays a vital role in modern IT operations of all sizes and scales. Indeed, OOBM might be judged “mission critical” for headquarters operations and data centers alike.
But OOBM is tremendously important for satellite IT operations, as well, most notably for branch and remote offices. Such operations span a wide range of locations and roles, with tens to hundreds of employees, and also benefit from OOBM. That’s particularly true because onsite IT at such locations may not exist, or it may be available only when roving IT staffers drop in from time to time.
Though the lack or scarcity of a local IT presence in branch and remote offices may sound troubling, it need not be a concern. Why? Because ZPE’s solutions are tailor-made to ease such concerns, and address the need for ongoing, always-available IT access, support, and services. These solutions can, in fact, keep branch and remote offices humming.
ZPE offers a potent combination of capabilities that include:
- Robust, secure, and highly available remote access links and technologies (that keep working even if WAN links or remote networks fail or become unavailable)
- Zero Touch Provisioning capabilities that let IT staff install, set up, and configure computers and other equipment remotely
- Highly automated tools to assist set up and provisioning activities at branch and remote locations, including bare-metal install of computers and devices using KVM and remote access tools
Benefits of Cloud-Based Maintenance
Working through ZPE Cloud provides numerous advantages to organizations seeking remote management and maintenance for branch and remote offices. Improved security results from the ability to ship IT devices without pre-staging or pre-configuring them. Using ZPE Cloud, you can configure IT devices when they arrive at the branch or remote office and are under your direction and control.
This works through secure, always-available, remote access to branch and remote office locations. Only authorized personnel can access remote and branch offices via ZPE Cloud and the Nodegrid Manager software, including via direct network or out-of-band network links as circumstances dictate.
Because IT staff can safely and securely download, deploy, and install software remotely using ZPE Cloud and Nodegrid Manager through branch-based Nodegrid SR devices, all the real work happens in your best-staffed and most secure locations.
Thus, definition, testing, and staging of all software packages, device images, patches, and fixes all occur in the NOC. When you’re ready to deploy them in the field, ZPE Cloud and Nodegrid make that happen on your schedule (for regular maintenance or update windows) or on-demand (when new equipment is delivered to a branch or remote office, or when troubleshooting is required).
In this cloud-based environment, deployment only occurs by deliberate decision and direction, under the control of centralized IT staff. Secure remote access ensures that automation can handle routine or repetitive tasks, with skilled operators ready to take over should problems occur.
Figure 1 shows ZPE Cloud’s General Devices view of the company’s own HQ and branch office operations.
Figure 1: General device information shows SR device make, model, status, and software; further drill down is instantly available
Working Through Routine Maintenance
ZPE Cloud makes all accessible SR devices readily visible and manageable through secure remote connections, either in-band using conventional networks, or out-of-band using the various OOB links that SR devices routinely support (serial, USB, Wi-Fi, cellular wireless, and RJ-45 or optical Ethernet connections).
Individual sites and status information on the dashboard show up on a real map that displays physical locations and provides ready access to status and control information, along with remote access to connected computers and devices.
ZPE Cloud and Nodegrid Manager work through firewalls and other security hurdles to access sites thoroughly and completely. OOB access may bypass such hurdles, depending on how out-of-band links are set up and configured. Using KVM technology through ZPE Cloud and Nodegrid Manager, IT staff can access SR devices, other network infrastructure elements, and local client and server computers.
Because ZPE consolidates OOBM, in-band management, and VNFs under a single umbrella, overall maintenance effort and needs are decreased. Routine maintenance can be highly automated, based on well-tested scripts and tools checked out in advance in the test lab.
By the time maintenance work starts, the targets should be well-defined and well-understood, and the results as certain as proper preparation allows. Overall, this means that quicker, more predictable, and more reliable maintenance for branch and remote offices is an achievable outcome.
Safe, Secure, 24×7 Support for Branches
Because of the way remote access is built into ZPE Cloud and Nodegrid, no VPN is needed for access. The feature uses industry-leading secure connections to provide safe, secure entry via browser and mobile client devices (using Nodegrid client access or the ZPE Cloud mobile app on Android or iOS).
Because on-call staff can connect to sites anywhere (headquarters, data centers, remote or branch offices) safely and securely, 24×7 support becomes less location-dependent. There’s simply no need to staff the NOC round the clock, except perhaps during scheduled maintenance intervals, or if some kind of formal business continuity or disaster recovery effort is declared.
When you’re ready to try ZPE Cloud and its family of Nodegrid SR devices, visit the ZPE Systems’ Nodegrid for Branch Networks pages, or download the full tech brief, “Out-of-Band Management: Maintaining Branch Deployments,” today.