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Black Box Explains...Remote access.

Remote access is the ability to access a network, a personal computer, a server, or other device from a distance for the purpose of controlling it or to access data.... more/see it nowToday, remote access is usually accomplished over the Internet, although a local IP network, telephone lines, cellular service, or leased lines may also be used. With today’s ubiquitous Internet availability, remote access is increasingly popular and often results in significant cost savings by enabling greater network access and reducing travel to remote sites. Remote access is a very general term that covers a wide range of applications from telecommuting to resetting a distant server. Here are just a few of the applications that fall under the remote access umbrella:

Remote network access
A common use for remote access is to provide corporate network access to employees who work at home or are in sales or other traveling positions. This kind of remote access typically uses IPsec VPN tunnels to authenticate and secure connections.

Remote desktop access
Remote desktop access enables users to access a computer remotely from another computer and take control of it as if it were local. This kind of remote control requires that special software—which is included with most operating systems—be installed and enabled. It’s often used by those who travel frequently to access their “home” computer, and by network administrators for remote server access. This remote access method has some inherent security concerns and is usually incompatible with firewalls, so it’s important to be aware of its limitations and use adequate security precautions.

Remote KVM access
A common application in organizations that maintain servers across multiple sites is server administration through an IP-enabled KVM switch. These IP-addressable switches support one or more servers and have an integral Web server, enabling users to access them over the Internet through a Web browser. Because they’re intended for Internet use, these switches offer authentication and encryption for secure connections.

Remote power management
Anyone who’s ever had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to go switch a server off and back on again to reset it can appreciate the convenience of remote power management. Remote power managers have a wide range of capabilities ranging from simple power switching to reboot a device to sophisticated power monitoring, reporting, and management functions.

Remote environmental security monitoring
Remote environmental and security monitoring over the Internet is increasingly popular, largely because of the cost savings of using existing network infrastructure rather than a proprietary security system. This application requires IP-addressable hubs that support a variety of sensors ranging from temperature and humidity to power monitors. Some models even support surveillance cameras. collapse


Black Box Explains...Power over Ethernet (PoE).

What is PoE?
The seemingly universal network connection, twisted-pair Ethernet cable, has another role to play, providing electrical power to low-wattage electrical devices. Power over Ethernet (PoE) was ratified by the... more/see it nowInstitute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in June 2000 as the 802.3af-2003 standard. It defines the specifications for low-level power delivery—roughly 13 watts at 48 VDC—over twisted-pair Ethernet cable to PoE-enabled devices such as IP telephones, wireless access points, Web cameras, and audio speakers.

Recently, the basic 802.3af standard was joined by the IEEE 802.3at PoE standard (also called PoE+ or PoE plus), ratified on September 11, 2009, which supplies up to 25 watts to larger, more power-hungry devices. 802.3at is backwards compatible with 802.3af.

How does PoE work?
The way it works is simple. Ethernet cable that meets CAT5 (or better) standards consists of four twisted pairs of cable, and PoE sends power over these pairs to PoE-enabled devices. In one method, two wire pairs are used to transmit data, and the remaining two pairs are used for power. In the other method, power and data are sent over the same pair.

When the same pair is used for both power and data, the power and data transmissions don’t interfere with each other. Because electricity and data function at opposite ends of the frequency spectrum, they can travel over the same cable. Electricity has a low frequency of 60 Hz or less, and data transmissions have frequencies that can range from 10 million to 100 million Hz.

Basic structure.
There are two types of devices involved in PoE configurations: Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) and Powered Devices (PD).

PSEs, which include end-span and mid-span devices, provide power to PDs over the Ethernet cable. An end-span device is often a PoE-enabled network switch that’s designed to supply power directly to the cable from each port. The setup would look something like this:

End-span device → Ethernet with power

A mid-span device is inserted between a non-PoE device and the network, and it supplies power from that juncture. Here is a rough schematic of that setup:

Non-PoE switch → Ethernet without PoE → Mid-span device → Ethernet with power

Power injectors, a third type of PSE, supply power to a specific point on the network while the other network segments remain without power.

PDs are pieces of equipment like surveillance cameras, sensors, wireless access points, and any other devices that operate on PoE.

PoE applications and benefits.
• Use one set of twisted-pair wires for both data and low-wattage appliances.
• In addition to the applications noted above, PoE also works well for video surveillance, building management, retail video kiosks, smart signs, vending machines, and retail point-of-information systems.
• Save money by eliminating the need to run electrical wiring.
• Easily move an appliance with minimal disruption.
• If your LAN is protected from power failure by a UPS, the PoE devices connected to your LAN are also protected from power failure.
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Black Box Explains...Dry contacts.

A dry contact, also called a volt-free contact, is a relay contact that does not supply voltage. The relay energizes or de-energizes when a change to its input has occurred.... more/see it nowIn other words, a dry contact simply detects whether or not an input switch is open or closed.

The dry contacts in the ServSensor Contact provide a simple two-wire interface that can be easily adapted to third-party sensors and devices. Because you define what the open or closed condition means, dry contacts are infinitely adaptable.

Use dry contacts to monitor alarms such as fire alarms, burglar alarms, and alarms on power systems such as UPSs. A very common use for dry contacts is to detect whether a cabinet door is open or closed. collapse


Black Box Explains…Remote monitoring.

Beyond virus protection.
It has become almost automatic to protect your data center by backing up your servers, installing firewalls and virus protection, and keeping the protection up-to-date.

But what about... more/see it nowmore tangible threats? Do you have hot spots in your racks? If the cooling system shuts down, how will you know when temperatures climb out of control? Are you alerted to humidity changes or water leaks that threaten your equipment?

Planning for the unexpected is a critical task because there are more systems performing mission-critical functions than ever before. These systems are often deployed without the proper environmental infrastructure to support them. Equipment density is increasing constantly, which is creating more stress on ventilation and power.

The top three IT risks:
1. Environmental disruption.
The number one cause of downtime for remote locations, environmental problems go beyond fires and floods and affect as much as 30% of a company’s mission-critical infrastructure. Cooling and power are key points of exposure and increase as equipment density does.

2. Unnecessary risk.
When systems are housed in less-than-optimal settings, or are in remote and unsupervised locations, any error causes downtime. Yet, it’s not practical to have someone babysitting the servers.

3. Sabotage.
Regardless of the probability, terrorism is now something each of us must plan for. Your systems can also be brought down from within if the proper security safeguards are not in place.

What’s an environmental monitoring system?
Environmental monitoring products enable you to actively monitor the conditions in your rack, server room, data center, or anywhere else you need to protect critical assets. Conditions monitored include extreme temperatures, humidity, power spikes and surges, water leaks, smoke, and chemical materials. With proper environmental monitoring, you’re alerted to any conditions that could have an adverse effect on your mission-critical equipment. These products can also alert you to potential damage from human error, hacking, or prying fingers.

Environmental monitors consist of three main elements: a base unit, probes or sensors, and network connectivity and integration. The base units may contain one or more built-in sensors, as well as ports for hooking up external probes. Additionally, they include an Ethernet port and have software for remote configuration and graphing. This software may also work with existing network management software, such as SNMP systems.

Measurement.
An environmental monitoring appliance displays the values measured by the attached probes, e.g. temperature, humidity, airflow, status of dry contact, door, motion detector, and other sensors.

Data collecting and graphing.
Measurements are periodically stored in the internal memory or external storage media and displayed as graphs.

Alerting.
When the measured value exceeds the predefined threshold, it triggers an alert: a blinking LED on the front panel, an audible alarm, SNMP trap, e-mail, etc. The environmental monitoring appliance can also activate an external alarm system like a siren or strobe light.

Benefits of environmental monitoring:

  • Reduced downtime—When things go wrong, you’re the first to know. Minimize downtime by being alerted about conditions that cause damage to servers and other network devices.
  • Increased profits—Environmental monitoring systems are easy to implement. Also, they help you cut replacement equipment costs and redistribute your workforce more effectively.
  • Increased employee satisfaction—With built-in notification features like e-mail, SMS, and SNMP traps, a remote monitoring system enables employees to better manage their work.

  • Applications:
    Envornmental and security monitoring systems can be used for a variety of applications, including:
  • Data center monitoring
  • Computer room monitoring
  • Rackmount industrial equipment
  • Telecommunications
  • UPS/battery backup
  • Educational institutions
  • Food and beverage applications
  • Buildings/warehouses
  • Air conditioner/refrigerants/freezer monitoring
  • Greenhouses
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