Unlike remote access, which focuses on file sharing, group management, and other traditional network functions, remote management is instead geared toward controlling the devices from hubs and routers to DSUs (Data Service Units) that form the backbone of data networks. Remote management allows administrators to dial into these devices to diagnose and repair them, rather than making expensive emergency trips every time remote site problems are encountered.
With so much business traveling the wires every day, remote management is an IT idea thats gaining momentum. "Remote management means centralized control," Goodman pointed out. Instead of technicians scattered around at remote sites, companies can maximize their human capital by assembling a brain trust of talented systems engineers at a single, central location.The reductions in travel and maintenance costs can be enormous. Instead of flying a technician or an engineer to each site for each problem, remote management allows the central office to diagnose and repair most issues \\ without consulting a travel agent. Even when a hardware problem cannot be repaired remotely, the diagnosis gleaned from remote access cuts down on time spent on-site. Often, a member of the non-technical staff at the site can install the replacement device, which is then configured from the central office.
"For overloaded network managers, remote management is a great time saver," Goodman enthused. "For businesses, it means losing less to network downtime, and spending less to send technicians to remote sites. Its something we recommend to more and more clients."
One of the clients Goodman assisted in enabling remote network management is the financial and investment firm Prudential Securities. In the midst of a communications hardware upgrade for a sprawling nationwide network of over 300 sites, Prudential was also searching for a way to reduce administration and maintenance costs without sacrificing the functionality of the data network they relied on.
"Prudential came to us because they needed to upgrade their data connections from 56K to a fractional T-1 line, to standardize on Cisco routers and switches, and replace some older hardware at each site," Goodman reported. "At the same time, they were looking for a way to pull all of their network management into a central location their IT office in New York."
Providing individual dialup lines to between eight and ten devices at each of 300 sites can quickly get expensive, however. "We needed a way to access the devices without connecting a modem and a phone line to each piece of hardware," Goodman said, "and we did it with a remote access switch from DCB (Data Comm for Business)."
Data Comm for Business has been providing data communications solutions since 1981, ranging from the design of a unique serial multiplexer that successfully delivered one-way air to ground telemetry for a recent Environment Canada experiment, to remote access switches like the ones used in Prudentials network.
DCB remote access switches have an array of serial ports for attaching RS-232-equipped devices. Connecting the switch to a modem allows dialup access to many devices through a single telephone line. "We were able to reach all of the devices at a site with a single modem connection," Goodman noted.
"When there is a problem, a technician dials into the site using the access switch and selects the specific port for monitoring," observed Goodman. "The access switch we used for the Prudential network allows administrators to store simple English names for the ports, rather than relying on numeric codes. That can be very handy when there are seven or eight connected devices on each switch."
Even when a router or other hardware fails, remote access is an asset, Goodman claimed. "Usually the administrators at the central office don't even have to leave the desk, but even when they can't fix the problem over the dialup line, the person sent to the site has a much better diagnosis," he explained. "He can simply swap the hardware and leave instead of spending time troubleshooting and tracking the problem down."
Remote access technology isn't limited to reconfiguring route tables and resetting hub ports. Devices like DCB's Access Switch are just as effective setting stoplight timers from a municipal traffic shop, or cycling the power on a remote barcode decoder at a retail location, as they are at keeping Prudential's network online. Almost any device with an RS-232 control interface is accessible via remote access.
Goodman says that he recommends remote access to many of his clients, for a variety of applications. "It just has so many advantages it reduces time and cost, and makes the network more reliable. That all adds up to better business for our clients."
Gene Goodman is available to answer further questions about this remote access application and other pertinent Com/Peripherals network solutions at: (800) 989-7911 To learn more about the DCB Access Switch, check the data sheets or read some white papers and tutorials.
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