Terminal Access With No Strings Attached

Co-location is a really cost effective way to bring your equipment, “to the party”, rather than bringing network connections to your facilities.  Most businesses will elect to position core network assets in “Carrier Hotels”.  Regionally located, Carrier Hotels are prime locations where business can interconnect to a variety of networks; the idea is that the last “mile” is reduced to feet, thus reducing transport costs.

I was speaking with a gentleman the other day about how he accesses his gear in the data centers where he chooses to collocate and interconnect; in this particular instance the business was looking to eliminate monthly cross-connect fees for Out-of-Band access buy employing cellular wireless.   

The primary vehicles for remote access in Carrier Hotels are: smart hands (paying a 3rd party to access your equipment on-site), VPN access, or Terminal access.  Of the three options, Terminal access will arguably provide the most redundant and secure path if properly configured.

Let’s look at the costs of Terminal access.  Most businesses that elect for remote access into a Carrier Hotel will pay a monthly fee for the network connection (Ethernet/DSx) and pay a cross-connect charge to get the circuit from the datacenter ingress point out to the rack/cabinet/cage.

Arguably a much more cost effective way to gain secure, remote access to co-located network equipment is via Cellular Wireless (M2M) Out-of-Band Management.  Because the network access to the data center is typically sporadic is nature, M2M access makes a good deal of sense.  Moreover, different vendors will also provide clients with the ability to power-cycle equipment in the facilities; this is an added feature typically unavailable with traditional connection methodologies.

Lastly let’s discuss security.  If your business employs remote, “smart hands” or 3rd party access to core company assets (routers, switches, firewalls), there is plenty of room for security improvement.  If you are utilizing terminal access to the remote site and are relying on a network connection without the added benefit of two-factor authentication or encryption, you are arguably opening your business up to liability (especially if you are beholden to regulatory compliances such as, HIPAA, PCI, or, SOX).

Cellular Wireless Out-of-Band can be a highly successful methodology for accessing remote network assets.  If engineered properly, this shift in tactic can boast significant increases in security posture while promoting healthy cost savings.