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in band vs out-of-band management
In a previous blog, we discussed the differences between out-of-band (OOB) networks and out-of-band (OOB) management. An OOB network is a separate network used to manage, orchestrate, and troubleshoot the primary production network. OOB management is the term for the network management that occurs on the out-of-band network. This differs from in-band management, which takes place on the main network alongside production traffic.

In this blog, we’ll compare In-band vs out-of-band management and explain why modern enterprise networks need out-of-band.

What is In-band management?

In-band management is the network management that occurs on the same channel as data communications. Network administrators connect to the device they want to manage (e.g., a router, switch, etc.) using protocols like Telnet/SSH or SNMP. In-band management requires the administrator to connect over the primary LAN interface—or the WAN, for remote network management.

The in-band network management workflow must compete with production traffic for bandwidth since they use the same network architecture. In addition, if the primary LAN, WAN, or ISP experiences problems or goes offline, administrators lose the ability to connect to network devices for troubleshooting remotely. That means they need to physically connect to the serial ports on affected devices, which could be hundreds or thousands of miles away.

What is OOB management?

Out-of-band (OOB) management takes place on a separate channel known as an out-of-band network. This keeps management and orchestration workflows from adding latency to the production network. It can also provide a redundant connection to manage remote network infrastructure in case the primary WAN, LAN, and/or ISP goes down.

An OOB network may have its own LAN architecture, with a jump box (also known as a jump server) providing management access. This box connects to both the In-band and OOB network, so administrators can remotely connect to the jump server from the primary LAN and use it to access OOB management. Ideally, this secondary LAN is wholly isolated from the primary, with its own DNS, DHCP, and other critical network services. This will allow engineers to troubleshoot even if those services are unavailable on the primary LAN. However, administrators will be cut off if any of these services goes down on the OOB network.

Another approach to OOB management uses serial consoles (also known as console servers, serial console routers, serial console switches, or terminal servers). Serial consoles connect to the networking infrastructures via managed serial ports, giving administrators management access to many different devices from one centralized system. Unlike a jump box, serial consoles have a direct serial connection to the devices they manage, which means administrators can still view and troubleshoot this infrastructure even if critical network services are down.

An OOB serial console provides two or more network interfaces, so you can connect them to the primary ISP/WAN and a secondary network (such as a DSL, dial-up, or cellular connection). This secondary network acts as a failover if the primary goes down, giving engineers an alternative path to critical infrastructure. It also creates a dedicated out-of-band network for management and orchestration, leaving the production network free for critical business traffic.

Comparing In-band vs Out-of-band management

Many organizations still use In-band management simply because it’s easier and doesn’t require any extra hardware. To get out-of-band management, you must purchase, configure, and install dedicated hardware on top of your in-band infrastructure. However, while sticking with In-band management may save you some time and money now, it’s sure to cost you in the long run. In-band management negatively impacts the performance of the production network and doesn’t provide access to remote equipment if the primary LAN or WAN goes down.

In Band Management vs OOB Management
In band management OOB management
Management traffic creates latency on the production network Allows for complex management and orchestration workflows without impacting performance on the production network
Can’t remotely troubleshoot if the WAN or LAN goes down Provides an alternative path to critical remote infrastructure even if WAN or LAN services are unavailable
No additional hardware needed Requires additional hardware
Easy to set up May involve more complicated network configurations

Why you need OOB management

Modern businesses expect 24/7 availability of network resources. When an outage occurs, your engineers need to be able to quickly troubleshoot and restore services so you can keep your SLAs and avoid lost business. This is especially difficult when your critical infrastructure is housed off-site in remote data centers.

As your enterprise network grows in size, complexity, and geographic distribution, there is a need for greater automation and orchestration so engineers can keep up. Automation reduces the risk of human error, improving the network’s reliability and security.

However, complex network automation and orchestration workflows often require more resources and bandwidth. Running network automation tasks through In-band management creates performance issues on the production network, such as an increase in latency and dropped packets. OOB management is required if you want to take advantage of automation without negatively impacting the speed and reliability of your primary network.

When using In-band management, a WAN outage or remote equipment failure means wasting valuable time and money on truck rolls or on-site managed services. Out-of-band management gives network administrators a dedicated, redundant path to remote equipment so they can diagnose and fix issues without ever leaving the office. They can begin troubleshooting as soon as a failure occurs, allowing your organization to recover quickly and reducing the negative impact of an outage on customers and shareholders.

Learn more about In-band vs Out-of-band management

OOB management is superior to In-band management because it allows for resource-intensive network automation and orchestration without impacting production performance. OOB management also empowers network administrators to remotely troubleshoot and recover from outages, even if the primary WAN or LAN is offline.

Read more about OOB management:

→   How to Choose Secure Out-of-Band Management
→   Why Out-of-Band Remote Access is Critical for Branch Networking
→   Why You Need a Next-Gen OOB Console Server

Want to learn more about In-band vs Out-of-band management?

Contact ZPE Systems at 1-844-4ZPE-SYS to see a live demo of how Nodegrid OOB management solution makes OOB easy to deploy on top of existing infrastructure, with hardware/software that help automatically configure networks, and more.

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