Server Review: Opengear IM7200 Infrastructure Manager
The Opengear IM7200 Infrastructure Manager takes out-of-band remote connectivity to new heights. With WiFi, cellular and wired networking options available, you should be able to connect to your critical networking infrastructure in all but the most severe of circumstances.
The IM7200 makes it possible to connect with any device that uses a serial port for management. It also supports environmental and UPS monitoring to keep tabs on temperature, humidity and power.
We were provided with an IM7208 model, which comes with eight serial ports, WiFi and wired network connections plus cellular and a V.92 dial-up modem. Our review unit required using an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM for the cellular connection. We were able to connect using an AT&T SIM to verify this capability. We did not test the UPS monitoring capability.
Setup and Configuration
When you apply power to the IM7200, it has a default management IP address of 192.168.0.1. Our demo unit shipped with outdated firmware that wouldn't allow us to connect using a typical web browser.
The workaround was to download the most recent firmware and use an SSH session to update the firmware via the command line. This turned out to be a single command and, once accomplished, made the Web interface accessible.
Configuring attached devices requires checking a few boxes and choosing options from drop-down lists. This includes things like baud rate, data bits, parity and others for a serial port.
Figure 1 shows a part of the serial port configuration page where we configured the interface to our HP switch. One nice thing here is the IM7200 connects to the serial management port using a standard RJ-45 Ethernet cable between the IM7200 and switch.
Adding devices to the management console consists of selecting the port number you wish to configure and then selecting the options necessary. Many serial consoles default to 9600 baud, 8 data bits, no parity and 1 stop bit.
The Opengear IM7200 supports either straight-thru or rolled, which means the transmit and receive pins have been switched. Opengear provides adapters for switches with a DB-9 serial port connector that has an RJ-45 port to connect a standard Ethernet cable.
Be prepared for a good bit of effort when it comes to configuring the Opengear IM7200 for cellular access. We were able to get the system to connect to the AT&T LTE network, but that was it.
After that you must either configure a VPN or the failover settings. The instructions were not very clear on the exact steps required, and we stopped short of a full failover test. This would typically only be used as a backup method in the event of an Internet outage.
The Opengear IM7200 supports a number of different VPN technologies to provide a secure way to access the device from a remote location. Options include IPsec, OpenVPN and PPTP VPN.
Each must be configured with the appropriate information to include the use of certificates should you choose to use them. A separate configuration page for SSL certificates makes it possible to generate a certificate signing request with information specific to the system to obtain an SSL from a third-party provider.
Operation and Management
Figure 2 shows connecting to a HP switch using the IM7200's Web terminal interface. You can also connect using SSH or directly from a Web browser if you know which port you want to access.
Backing up your configuration information is an important task you should perform once you have everything set up the way you want it. Otherwise you would have to type everything in by hand in the case of a system or long-term power failure.
The Opengear IM7200 provides a dashboard screen to give you a quick overview of all the information you need to assess the health of both the IM7200 and your infrastructure. Figure 3 shows the dashboard as it comes by default. You can modify the appearance and location of the widgets to display the information most important to you.
For enterprise integration you have the option of connecting with a Nagios server, an SNMP server or a remote Syslog server. The level of logging is extensive and can be filtered based on specific events depending on the category of the event.
Viewing local Syslog events presents a comprehensive list of everything that's happened since the system was turned on. A search tool provides for regular expression matching should you need to find a specific event.
The IM7208-2-DAC-LMA-US version is a multi-carrier product with a suggested retail price of $3,225. The only difference from the product we tested is that ours was AT&T-specific.
If you need a management appliance with the ability to control serial port-based devices such as switches and UPSes, you'll definitely want to take a look at the Opengear IM7200.
Paul Ferrill, based in Chelsea, Alabama, has been writing about computers and software for almost 20 years. He has programmed in more languages than he cares to count, but now leans toward Visual Basic and C#.
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