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Console Servers

Product Roll Call

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To qualify, each device had to have at least 16 ports and a method for user authentication and traffic encryption. One of the key capabilities we tested was recovering from an unplanned power outage. To evaluate this, we opened sessions with various appliances, then pulled the plug on the console server under test. We waited 30 seconds, then reconnected the unit to power and waited for it to reboot. When it was back in service, we attempted to resume the sessions.

All three units successfully terminated their own port sessions and let us try to reconnect to the appliance--an improvement over some earlier-generation products. In addition, they offer SSH VPN capabilities, local user authentication and remote-user authentication with RADIUS and LDAP services. Each provides both Web browser and CLI configuration as well. If you have a rack or two of infrastructure equipment and need a single server to help you connect to all of it, any of these systems will do the job--all three vendors make units with varying numbers of output ports. We feel, however, that 16 ports is the best option for the small- and midsize-business market and a reasonable building block for enterprise deployments.

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