Avocent expands MergePoint line

Avocent has added two more appliances to its MergePoint line of gateways for controlling server service processors.

The new additions include Ethernet ports to eliminate with the problem of connecting the service processors to corporate networks, said Ivan Passos, Avocent’s director of product management.

A number of server manufacturers including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun are including a separate processor (sometimes called a baseboard management processor) for remotely managing their internal operations through software.

These include the ability to remotely access the BIOS, monitor temperature sensors, CPU status, fan speed, voltages) and provide reset or power-cycle capabilities.

However, service processors often have a dedicated Ethernet interface of their own, which exposes their management traffic to the network. That poses a security risk, Passos said, as well as being expensive use of Ethernet connectivity.

Avocent’s answer is the MergePoint 5224, with 24 Ethernet ports, and the 5240, with 40 ports, to which service processors are connected to for management consolidation.

“Basically the box looks like an Ethernet switch,” Passos said, “but what it does is isolate the Ethernet for the service processor from the regular network.”

Because both units are gateways, he added, they can also be used to enforce more consistent end-user policies such as authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) features.

The appliances come with a Web interface for controlling service processors from any vendor. However, for administrators who want to connect to one server’s interface – perhaps for troubleshooting or to apply specific patches – the appliances also have an authorization-protected DirectCommand capability.

The model 5224 starts at US$2,995, while the 5240 starts at US$3,995. Pricing varies depending on whether the buyer wants single or dual AC power supplies, or a DC power supply.

The MergePoint 5200 stays in the product line. Passos said it is for customers who are deploying IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) service processors in sideband (or shared Ethernet connection) mode. It’s also for those in highly secure environments such as financial institutions or Internet service providers with multiple environments in the same building.

“Partners will be pleased because their end users are skeptical about deploying service processors because of the (security) issues.” In many cases they allow only limited deployment, he said.

With the new appliances, partners can offer a product that lets them take advantage of the technology.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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