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Linux console servers target telecom

Jul 5, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

[Updated 5:20 P.M.] — Opengear is shipping 48-Volt “telecom” versions of two inexpensive console servers based on Linux and other open source software. Network service providers can use the 16-port CM4116-48V and 48-port CM4148-48V to securely manage remote servers, switches, routers, VoIP gateways, and DSLAMs,… via in- or out-of-band networks, according to the company.

Early customers include Japan's largest and second-largest mobile carriers, as well as a leading Chinese carrier, OpenGear says.

The 48-Volt CM4000-series devices are designed to integrate with the direct-current power systems used by telecommunications network operators and service providers. They provide four remote access methods, all through SSH tunnels with strong authentication and encryption:

  • Text-based console access to 16 or 48 devices
  • Access to devices with browser interfaces
  • Access via RDP (remote desktop protocol) to Windows-based equipment
  • Access via VNC (virtual network computer) to Linux, Mac, Windows, Solaris, and other OSes

Touted features include:

  • Enables users to securely access computers running any OS supporting console access or VNC/RDP, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS, or Unix
  • Secure remote management of Ethernet attached devices or serial consoles on telco-grade equipment
  • Secure access and logging of console text, with e-mail alerts and SNMP traps for problem identification and resolution
  • Secure, authenticated remote access to the infrastructure, whether or not the main in-band network is operational
  • NTP for time synchronization
  • PPP for dial-up access
  • Flash upgradeable, with free updates via FTP/TFTP
  • No need to install network-wide VPN

Specifications include:

  • Micrel KS8695P processor, with a 166MHz ARM core
  • 16MB of Flash, and 64MB of SDRAM
  • Either 16 (CM4116-48V) or 48 (CM4148-48V) RS-232 serial ports on RJ-45 jacks
  • RS-232 console and modem serial port on a DB-9 connector, for dial-up, ISDN, or other out-of-band network interface
  • Accepts 36V to 72V power
  • Consumes less than 20 Watts
  • 1 RU rack mount

Opengear CTO Tony Merenda stated, “The company's new console servers were developed with a number of leading telcos, including China Telecom, NTT, and KDDI, whose mission was to enhance the productivity of their telecommunications assets while safeguarding against unplanned outages. Our key telco partners acknowledge the need to consolidate text, web, and graphical remote management of all their equipment in one secure remote management appliance that operates within their stable -48V DC power infrastructure.”

Opengear found Bob Waldie said, “The telco's came to us, and asked for telecom-specific versions. Many telco's have thousands of replicated points-of-presence that have to be managed remotely, so not only unit cost but integration costs become an issue.”

Waldie added, “Also, carriers are far more conservative than datacenter managers, because they're going after five-9's reliability, and need to limit every point of exposure. We worked closely with our customers on a number of hardware and software customizations, such as integration with Radius authentication systems.”


Both 48-Volt console servers are available now. The CM4116-48V is priced $995, while the CM4148-48V costs $1695.

Opengear initially marketed its CM4000-series devices to enterprise customers, and to VARs and integrators interested in remotely maintaining servers, software, and desktops. The devices are based on Linux and open source sofware, including okvm and SDTConnector, a Java-based ssh tunnel management “wizard” (online demo here).

Opengear was founded in January of 2005 by Snapgear founder Bob Waldie, with the aim of leveraging open source software to reduce the cost of console servers. Source code availability for the new CM4116-48V and CM4148-48V enables custom configurations, the company says.

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