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In these challenging times support staff demand secure remote access to critical infrastructure devices, as it accelerates troubleshooting and negates the need for on-site visits. There are plenty of appliances that offer these services but we’ve yet to see any that can match the sheer versatility of those from ZPE Systems.

Not content with offering high-level OOB (out-of-band) access to core devices, the modular Nodegrid Services Router (NSR) on review can be customized to provide a wealth of on-site network services. This 1U rack appliance presents five multi-service card slots that accept an impressive range of plug-in expansion modules.

Along with 16-port serial USB and RJ-45 OOB access modules, you have 8-port 10GbE SFP+ and 16-port SFP Gigabit switches, 16-port copper Gigabit and 8-port PoE+ switches, storage and compute modules plus a combined M.2/cellular/WiFi/SATA version. With this much choice, the NSR can be easily equipped to run a host of network services including switching and routing, SD-WANs, SDNs, firewalls, 4G/LTE failover and even application virtualisation.

A major issue with fixed-port OOB appliances is they have to be replaced as the number of managed devices exceeds their capabilities. The NSR overcomes these issues as you increase its port count with extra modules as demand dictates and group multiple appliances in clusters. Even better, the NSR is vendor agnostic so you can use it to access legacy OOB solutions allowing businesses to phase them out gradually.

The NSR has plenty of power on tap as it’s equipped with a 2.2GHz 8-core Intel Atom C3758 CPU partnered by 8GB of DDR4 memory. Its 32GB mSATA SSD can be easily upgraded or you can add the storage module that supports standard SFF hard disks and SSDs.

Deployment is a breeze as we connected one of the NSR’s Gigabit management ports to the lab network, powered it up and pointed a browser at it. Zero-touch deployment for distributed sites is also available as you declare the NSR to the ZPE Cloud portal and send it to the site, where it connects to the portal for enrolment and remote management.

The local web console is very intuitive, and we started by running a discovery of the lab network and creating managed device entries for our various infrastructure systems. Each port on the OOB modules can be configured with the desired serial settings and we also added network devices such as our Dell server iDRAC9 IP addresses, which were then directly accessible from the console’s access page.

Switch module ports are enabled as required and used to connect devices such as IPMI controllers, UPS management ports and PDUs and as they function as standard switches, any other device you want. Add a Docker license and you can create lightweight containers on the NSR and run just about any app that’s available on the Docker Hub.

Access security is tight as the NSR supports authentication servers such as Active Directory and RADIUS along with 2FA and SSO. User access can be fine-tuned by placing them in groups that are assigned specific devices with read/write and power control permissions plus authorised PDU power outlets.

The NSR offers integral intrusion prevention which blocks hosts with multiple authentication failures and enforces system BIOS password protection to stop unauthorised changes being made. Businesses worried about compliance can rest easy as the extensive auditing services include keystroke logging for all remote sessions.

The Nodegrid Services Router seamlessly delivers joined up infrastructure management and network services. It’s easy to use with extremely tight remote access security, and its smart modular design allows businesses to cut costs and complexity by using it to replace multiple point solutions.

Originally posted in Network Magazine