ePlus Leverages Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band Technology

The Challenge

As a leading consultative technology solutions provider with lifecycle services expertise across key areas including security, cloud, data center, collaboration, networking and emerging technologies, ePlus allows its customers to achieve positive business outcomes through the use of transformative technology. For ePlus, ensuring seamless network connectivity for business continuity across its 38 U.S.-based office locations and two data centers was absolutely critical.

Prior to adopting Opengear in 2016, ePlus used POTs lines with external modems plugged into auxiliary ports for OOB. According to Chris Smolen, Manager of Network Engineering for ePlus Internal IT, this solution was inefficient. Since it relied heavily on external modems, it also necessitated local, onsite involvement and maintenance, creating an inability to troubleshoot issues remotely. With so many individual locations, moving away from POTs lines became vital.

The Solution

ePlus was looking for high availability, even if the primary in-band network failed. After looking at several serial console manufacturers, ePlus selected Opengear as the ideal solution for always-on connectivity, as well as permanent monitoring, and remote management of critical IT infrastructures in its offices and data centers. A major factor was the integrated 4G solution to ensure reliable cellular access to devices.

OOB solution with high-speed failover to cellular

ePlus replaced the POTs lines and external modems with Opengear Resilience Gateways (ACM 7008-LMV with 8 ports), using Verizon 4G LTE at its branch offices across the U.S. These units are compact and ideal for small remote sites. ePlus has also expanded its deployment of Opengear to its data centers and uses the IM7248-LMV for remote access, maintenance, and proactive monitoring.

Out-of-band management minimizes maintenance costs

The integrated wireless option offered by the OOB console servers also allows ePlus to substantially reduce costs involved with traveling to its remote offices to perform routine maintenance tasks, such as firmware updates, patches and other configuration changes, providing it with a bigger return on investment.

Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band allows IT staff to manage the infrastructure of hundreds of sites and thousands of devices with advanced troubleshooting and remediation from one centralized console, reducing operating costs and minimizing downtime.

Centralized management of the OOB infrastructure

ePlus also wanted its out-of-band solution to offer a centralized management system with automatic configuration for simple scalability and device provisioning. This software had to allow ePlus to keep an eye on all installed OOB consoles and connected devices from asingle pane of glass. ePlus opted for Opengear’s Lighthouse management software. This central management platform for remote access is a virtual software appliance and implements OpenVPN encrypted tunnels to gateways for all LAN, WAN and wireless remote access connections. Lighthouse can be installed on any VMWare session as well as cloud hosting services including Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google’s GCE. Lighthouse also offers a RESTful API interface, allowing the platform to be integrated easily in other management tools already installed. Lighthouse offers a status overview of all access gateways or nodes, allowing for simple management. Nodes can be easily enrolled and the process is further simplified using enrollment bundles. These bundles combine a unique registration token with user-defined tags such as a geographical location, a department or even a rack position. Devices can also be grouped according to users, sites or manufacturers. In addition, strict access authorization can also be defined.

Out Of Band Management

Results

"The Resilience Gateway with Cellular isn’t just more reliable than our previous analog modem solution – it’s substantially more reliable.”, explains Smolen. “They work every time we need them. Opengear is always available to answer any questions, and quickly. Working with Opengear has been an excellent experience."

Chris Smolen, Manager of Network Engineering for ePlus Internal IT

Three years after adopting its new out-of-band management solution, ePlus is very pleased with the Opengear experience.

Delivering managed technology services requires fully reliable and resilient connectivity to network resources,” said Todd Rychecky, VP of Sales Americas, Opengear. “We’re glad to see how ePlus has been able to bolster its platform stability and grow its compelling service offerings in part by using Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band solutions to deliver a more resilient network.

ePlus is a leading consultative technology solutions provider that helps customers imagine, implement, and achieve more from their technology. With the highest certifications from top technology partners and lifecycle services expertise across key areas including security, cloud, data center, collaboration, networking and emerging technologies, ePlus transforms IT from a cost center to a business enabler. Founded in 1990, ePlus has more than 1,500 associates serving a diverse set of customers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia-Pac.

Link to Opengear product pages: Opengear – Keeping Networks Running