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Serial device server monitors over 3G networks

Mar 25, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

Opengear announced a new version of its Linux-based ACM5000 line of serial device servers, claimed to be the first to offer remote monitoring over 3G cellular network devices. The ACM5004-G is equipped with four serial ports, an Ethernet port, and a USB port, and supports EDGE, GPRS, GSM, HSDA and HSUPA networks.

Primarily known for open-source Linux console servers, Opengear was founded in 2005 by uClinux pioneer Bob Waldie. The company's goal is to use open-source software to reduce the cost of remote access and network center management equipment (see farther below for background).

Like the other members of Opengear's ACM5000 line of serial device servers, the ACM5004-G is designed to centrally manage and monitor network devices and power status. Extending this capability to work over 3G cellular networks is important, says Opengear, because a growing number of serial device servers are in locations without LAN access.

Opengear's ACM5004-G
(Click to enlarge)

The ACM5004-G can be deployed over any GSM network, providing secure, out-of-band infrastructure management, as well as secure telemetry and SCADA, says Opengear. The server provides always-on remote management with wired to cellular failover, and can also manage over cellular for non-wired locations, says the company.

ISPs and carriers can use the ACM5004-G for monitoring and out-of-band management of their remote POPs over the cellular network, says Opengear. In addition, companies can run software on the virtual servers at the head office to communicate securely to serial devices at the remote sites.

The ACM5004-G runs Linux on an unnamed processor and offers 2GB of local FTP/TFTP storage for device configuration files, says Opengear. The server is said to be equipped with four serial ports with a Cisco pinout, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a USB port with a USB drive for offline logging and stored configurations. In addition to the 3G cellular interface, the server offers an external antenna.

Other hardware features include an external power supply, and internal temperature monitoring and dry contacts for leak detection, smoke alarms, vibration sensors, and door contacts, says the company. Plans are said to be underway to develop a version that also supports 4G networks.

ACM5004-G, rear view

Major features provided by the ACM5004-G are said to include:

  • Network access for roaming on high-speed cellular networks, supporting peak downlink speeds up to 7.2Mbps and peak uplink speeds up to 5.76Mbps
  • 3G quad-band connections through EDGE, GPRS, GSM, HSDPA, HSUPA networks, including AT&T and T-Mobile in North America
  • Embedded NUT (see farther below) and Powerman power management capabilities to monitor all distributed serial, USB, and network-attached UPS and PDU systems on site
  • Embedded FIPS140-2 OpenSSL cryptographic module validated to meet the FIPS140-2 standards and has received Certificate #1051
  • IPSec VPN gateway to access serial devices over a IPSec VPN infrastructure
  • Free virtual COM port redirection software
  • Linux development kit and source code for open source development

According to Opengear, the ACM5000 is one of the company's fastest growing product lines, and is used in organizations including retail chains, financial institutions, and hospital systems. The servers let customers centrally manage and monitor network devices and power status at all remote branch outlets and centralize alarms to set up automatic shut-downs to be triggered in the event of battery back-up outages, says the company.

Opengear is primarily known for its CM4000 console servers, which first shipped in 2005, as well as its IM4200 gateways, which launched in 2006. Both aim to offer secure, remote, in-band access based on VNC and RDP tunneled through SSL, which is said to cost less and be easier for users than enterprise-wide VPN gateways. The devices also offer out-of-band management, for instance, enabling users to remote reboot crashed servers without involving hosting provider staff.

In 2008, the company added the Nagios open-source network and device monitoring software to its CM4000 console servers. Later that year, it added uninterruptible power supply (UPS) monitoring tools to its console servers based on the open source Network UPS Tools (NUT) project, and then introduced a KCS6000 KVM gateway console (pictured above, at left) .

Stated Bob Waldie, Chairman and CEO of Opengear, "We are the first to add high speed cellular connection to serial device servers because customers want a faster way to connect if their network goes down."


Opengear did not offer pricing or availability information on its new ACM5004-G serial device server. More information on the ACM5000 line of device servers may be found here, and some more specifics on the ACM5004-G may be found here.

Opengear will showcase the ACM5004-G at VoiceCon today in Orlando, Florida at booth 1323.

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