Gen 3 out-of-band comes with new requirements in remote access, automation, and security. These are necessary to meeting ever-growing demands for more network availability while adapting to modern cyber threats. Now that you know the differences in out-of-band generations, how exactly can you upgrade to Gen 3 for new deployments or existing environments?
In this post, we’ll uncover where the current problems came from, the gaps in existing solutions, and how you can get the latest in out-of-band technology to meet your evolving needs.
Out-of-band: The current problems
Demand for more network availability always seems to outpace your capabilities. This leaves you in a constant struggle against three main problems: remote access limitations, automation interoperability barriers, and workarounds that seem futile in addressing security gaps and evolving threats.
The problem is existing solutions have too many gaps and can’t address these issues. Let’s explore these gaps and discover how you can upgrade to Gen 3 out-of-band.
Out-of-band: Gaps in existing solutions
How do you deploy typical remote access solutions, and how much control do they give you?
- Many serial consoles require special adapters to accommodate different pinout types. More costs, complexity, and mess regardless of your deployment type
- Most vendors also require proprietary management software that limits you to managing only their devices
- You may be able to access the web UI or CLI of a device, but what about when you need to reimage and gain access to the BIOS? Most OOB solutions simply don’t support this level of remote access
Are you protected from attack vectors at the hardware, software, and management levels?
- Many serial console offerings come with light hardware security features. Some vendors even include them in the box but don’t bother to properly integrate them into the device’s BIOS
- Common serial consoles lack built-in software security. Without a signed OS, disk encryption, or properly integrated TPM, attackers can easily exploit gaps at the most basic software level. On top of this, many vendors gradually end support for specific operating systems, so updates and security patches eventually stop coming
- Many vendors also lack adequate protection at the management level, and may use only basic security measures such as password protection. What happens if a password leaks or a disgruntled employee suddenly has access to your management network?
Can you automate everything you need to in order to reduce human errors and outages?
- Most serial consoles feature closed, proprietary architecture that limits you to specific areas of infrastructure
- This confined automation also limits you to using basic scripting or specific orchestration tools. Will you have to learn new languages and skillsets, or can you use your existing knowledge to automate?
- Most serial consoles feature ARM-based CPUs which can’t support full pipeline automation through the use of guest operating systems or virtualization. Being unable to run Docker containers or host VMs and custom apps means manual intervention is still part of your process, which exposes you to human errors and other risks
How to upgrade to Gen 3 out-of-band
In order to achieve deep remote access, full pipeline automation, and enterprise-grade security, you need to upgrade to Gen 3 out-of-band. Here’s how:
For New Deployments
For new deployments, upgrading to Gen 3 out-of-band is as simple as deploying the Nodegrid Serial Console Plus (NSCP). Here’s how the NSCP brings Gen 3 OOB to new deployments:
- Cisco pinout — A majority of devices in your environments likely feature Cisco pinouts. The NSCP accommodates up to 96 such ports, so you don’t need the additional cost or mess of using adapters or dongles for incompatible cabling. When it comes to remote access, plug your devices directly into the NSCP and keep your environment clean.
- Concurrent Ethernet & LTE — Another benefit in terms of remote access is the NSCP’s ability to support all active Ethernet ports concurrently. This helps you gain OOB access to more of your infrastructure without special tools or having to be on site. The 5G/4G LTE modem also provides reliable cellular failover that serves as a backup for both your main connection and your OOB path.
- x86 CPU & open architecture — In terms of achieving full pipeline automation, the NSCP features an x86 Intel CPU and the Linux-based Nodegrid OS. This power and flexibility enables you to run VMs, containers, and orchestration tools of your choice directly on the device. The open architecture also enables you to cross barriers and automate any vendor solutions in your environments.
- Secure & validated at scale — The NSCP comes with built-in security features like encrypted disk, UEFI secure boot, TPM 2.0, and multi-factor authentication. These safeguards are properly implemented to secure every hardware and software integration, along with management networks and user interactions. You don’t need to deal with version compatibility issues, and the secure Nodegrid OS has been validated at million-node scale to seal out threats and enable automated threat prevention.
Additionally, ZPE Cloud brings more security and ease of use to new deployments. ZPE Cloud serves as a centralized configuration file repository and management portal.
- You no longer need to prolong deployment times waiting for on-site configurations. Store your config files in ZPE Cloud. Zero touch provisioning then automatically pushes files to the NSCP as soon as it powers on.
- You don’t need to juggle different management software commands or licenses. Just log into ZPE Cloud using any web browser, and gain access to physical and virtual assets connected to the NSCP.
- Take your pick of ZPE Cloud on-prem or hosted, to get a solution that best accommodates your environment.
For Mixed Environments / Existing Deployments
To get Gen 3 out-of-band in existing mixed environments, deploy the Nodegrid Serial Console S Series and Nodegrid Manager. Besides LTE connectivity or specific pinouts, the S Series offers the same benefits as the NSCP, but with these differences that make it ideal for existing environments:
- Auto-sensing ports — The S Series features auto-sensing ports that eliminate any concerns regarding existing cabling. Use with Cisco or legacy pinout devices for easy implementation and staged rollouts, instead of worrying about performing a full rip and replace.
- Nodegrid Manager — With Nodegrid Manager, you get one management software that enables deep control of everything connected to the S Series. Its Interface Abstraction Layer normalizes commands regardless of which vendor solutions you’re managing in your environments.
These features enable you to upgrade your existing environments to Gen 3 out-of-band, but at your own pace. You don’t need to fully rip and replace boxes, or continue juggling proprietary management software. Connect to the S Series’ auto-sensing ports for a staged rollout, and use Nodegrid Manager to normalize the management experience across your environments.
Gen 3 out-of-band for an auto manufacturer
- Limited out-of-band access to environments
- Automation restricted to partial infrastructure
- Manual configurations and device management
The manufacturer deployed the S Series and realized the benefits of Gen 3 out-of-band. Read the full case study for more details.