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The Cable-less Console

Serial based console ports have long been the lowest common denominator when it comes to configuring routers and switches. Although in-band management solutions such as telnet, SNMP and SSH allow for far greater flexibility, the physical nature of a serial connection ensures an administrator has a configuration backup plan when devices malfunction and configurations go awry. Despite this advantage, few administrators look forward to carrying around bulky serial cables but up and coming Bluetooth SPP (Serial Port Profile) devices such as BlueConsole2 bring the promise of console configuration without the wires.
In its simplest form, BlueConsole2 is a serial to Bluetooth dongle roughly the size of a modern cell phone. On one end is a standard RJ45 serial connector while the other end lies a snap-on 9V connector for the optional external battery. Usage scenarios include initial configuration of console based devices and quick troubleshooting of already deployed switches or routers. Although the product supports mass deployments such as data centers, both security and cost concerns would probably make legacy wired serial cables a better solution.

The true elegance of BlueConsole???s solution is in the unit???s size, power method and ease of use. In contrast to other Bluetooth based serial configuration dongles, BlueConsole2 is the only product that can draw its power directly from the serial port it???s connected to. By utilizing the power found on most RS232 handshake lines, BlueConsole claims that as much as 75% of devices it???s connected to will work without requiring the optional external 9V battery. In our lab experience we found these claims to be accurate, as most of the console devices we connected to (including several Cisco switches) work without the battery connected.

Administrators looking to trim some bulk from their troubleshooting tool belts will likely benefit most from using the BlueConsole2. Instead of being physically tethered to the device they are managing, administrators can simply plug in BlueConsole2 and work outside of the wiring closet so long as they are within the claimed 100m range of BlueConsole???s Class 1 Bluetooth transmitter. For more information visit BlueConsole.