Console Server Recommendation

Saku Ytti saku at
Tue Jan 31 09:11:36 UTC 2012

On (2012-01-30 11:08 -0500), Ray Soucy wrote:

> What are people using for console servers these days?  We've
> historically used retired routers with ASYNC ports, but it's time for
> an upgrade.

This is very very common thread, replaying couple times a year in various
lists, with to my cursory look no new information between iterations.

I'd be more curious if people listed what do they think good console server
should have, and if or not given model has them.

For me, required features are

- multiplexed connect to console port, console port should never, ever be busy,
  blocking. You don't want to find your most competent people blocked from
  accessing console, because 1st line is in lunch keeping the port busy.

- console port output always buffered persistently (if devices crashes and
  burns, at least you have post-network-reachability logs puked in console
  stored, good for troubleshooting)

- IP address mappable to a console port. So that accessing device normally
  is 'ssh router' and via OOB 'ssh router.oob' no need to train people

Nice to have

- Configuration import/export as ascii, from single place, so configuration
  backups are easy

- DC PSU support, redundantly

- No moving parts

- TACACS+ support 

- 3G support with IPSEC tunneling

- Some clean and well designed webUI 

I also have to ask, why do we even need these? Why do we still get new gear
with RS232 console only? Why only Cisco Nexus7k and SUP2T have seen the
light? Dedicated management-plane separated from control-plane, so
regardless of control-plane status, you can connect over ethernet to
management-plane and copy images to control-plane, reset control-plane,
check logs etc.
Ethernet port is lot cheaper than RS232 port, so OOB gear would be cheaper.

RS232 console on control-plane is ridiculously useless, you cannot copy
images over it (even if supported, images are several hundreds megabytes).
It is completely dependant on control-plane working which is very poor
requirement for OOB.
When 50bucks intel desktop mobo has proper OOB, why does not every router
and switch have?


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