Remote Management In-Reach

MRV Communications puts out more than a console server.

August 19, 2003

4 Min Read
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I connected several Cisco Systems routers and switches--a Catalyst 6500, a 2948G-L3 switch, a 7401ASR and a Catalyst 4500--to the LX-4048S before pulling up the Web console to begin configuration for each port. The Web console requires JRE (Java Runtime Environment) 1.3.0+ for unencrypted access and JRE 1.4.1 for encrypted access. A link on the main page connects you to Sun Microsystems' site, where you can download 1.4.0 JRE. I accessed the Web console using both Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and Netscape 7.02 without a problem.

Although you can name each of the ports to help manage which device is connected to which port, this data is not reflected in the port list; you must track port and device associations on your own. Aside from this small drawback, which MRV says will be addressed in a fourth-quarter release, the device offers options galore. From standard serial settings and telnet options to access modes, the LX-4048S covers nearly every scenario you'd find in your data center.

Sweet Setup

Setting up serial console access to the routers, including authentication options, was a breeze. RADIUS, TACACS+ and SecurID are offered, but I was unable to take advantage of these options because we don't use them in the lab. Once the port configuration was complete, I clicked a button in the Java administration console to connect to the LX-4048S.

Connecting to a device requires two authentication steps, however: one to the LX-4048S and another to the device. The Java applet providing access can use telnet or SSH (configurable on a per-connect basis) to connect to the LX-4048S, then it links to the device on your behalf. Each port can be configured with its own security features including multilevel passwords and access control lists, making it possible to limit access to individual ports by IP address.

Not Just a Serial Port

Each of the LX-4048S's ports can be configured as an asynchronous (serial console) port, a sensor port or a power monitor port. If you need sensors for temperature, humidity or other environmental conditions, you can purchase an In-Reach sensor and plug it into the device. By changing the port to a sensor, the port monitors the condition for which it is configured and provides notifications via SNMP, syslog or e-mail, based on thresholds you define. Turning a port into a power monitor port requires a simple configuration option, and options for power monitoring include being able to remotely control the power for an entire group of remote devices.You can set notifications through the straightforward task of creating a service profile. Simply give the service a name, specify the protocol used to log messages and then configure the protocol-specific parameters.

Every aspect of the device is configurable from both the Web console and the CLI (command-line interface). The CLI was comfortably familiar; it has a Cisco-IOS-like syntax and help system.

A centralized console server may be dull, but it makes managing and controlling access to large numbers of network devices more efficient. To aid in the automation process, the LX-4048S uses ASCII-based configuration files--which can be backed up or restored from a TFTP server--to which scripting can be added to further automate repetitive tasks.

Given the LX-4048S's flexibility and host of options, it is definitely worth the price of just under $80 per managed port.

Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. Write to her at [email protected].Post a comment or question on this story.

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