Monitoring the “Un-monitorable” with Opengear

Have you ever wanted to monitor something that wasn’t designed to be monitored? Maybe you need to snap a picture of someone when they open a cabinet. Perhaps there is a need to monitor an environmental element in the desert or off-shore on a buoy. Maybe your needs are more exotic, like tracking RFID tagged salmon. Even if your needs are not as extreme as these, there is a company that offers a suite of solutions that bridge many gaps and allow us to monitor things that seem impossible to monitor.

The company that I’m talking about is Opengear. This company is known for building serial console servers, KVM over IP, and other monitoring and management products. Console servers are most often associated with building a Cisco lab for studying from anywhere. Although the Opengear models are a very good solution for this, they offer so much more. Their solutions offer connectivity via almost any network including Ethernet, 802.11 and Cellular. Their devices can LOCALLY monitor and ACT on devices via serial (routers, UPS, etc), Ethernet (including iLo and DRAC cards), and open/closed circuits. Their solutions can also apply voltage when required for controlling a remote device.

In my introduction, I mentioned several exotic monitoring scenarios. Opengear has customers using their gear in each of these use cases. At Network Field Day 4, I think Colin McNamara framed it well when he compared their equipment to an arduino. The difference between Opengear’s solutions and a less expensive arduino is that the Opengear equipment is fully built, equipped, and includes important remote connectivity components.

For anyone who finds themselves trying to monitor or managed devices that weren’t designed with IP or remote monitoring in mind, I’d suggest watching the Network Field Day 4 Presentations by Opengear. Even if there is no intent of purchasing, it is interesting to see how they combined hardware with open source software to create a highly customizable solution.

Opengear at Network Field Day 4

Opengear is the type of company I would consider when there is a need to monitor something, but traditional tools don’t offer the ability to integrate. Not only do they build interesting products to fill the gap between a well (or not so well) connected network and monitored components, they are also active in the Open Source community. It is often easy to logically think about how something could be monitored if we took the time to build a tool. However, building such a solution is time consuming and requires special skills. Opengear’s prebuilt solutions offer integration without compromising the benefits and flexibility found in an open solution.

Is your company using Opengear or similar solutions? If so, what products are they using and how are they working out? I’m looking forward to hearing feedback from those who have used the products in a lab or to meet production monitoring and management requirements. Provide your comments below.

Disclaimer: Opengear is one of the sponsors for Networking Field Day 4. As a result, their sponsorship covered a portion of the cost of my travel and expenses associated with my attendance to this event. I also received an entry level evaluation product. This article itself was written without any restrictions or requirement to do so. My opinions on this product are my own and are accurately reflected.

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About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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One Response to Monitoring the “Un-monitorable” with Opengear

  1. I was really impressed with OpenGear. The beauty of the solution is that you can just use it as it was designed in a simple console server configuration with a fairly intuitive web interface or you can crack open the hood adding scripting and such and come up with some very interesting use cases.

    Great article!
    -Mike

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