Console Servers

I’d like your input on suggestions for an alternate serial port manager.

Long ago I used Cisco 2511/2611 and was fairly happy. A little later I used portmaster and was less so. Recently I’ve been using Opengear and they work fairly well but the price is fairly high. I use the CM7100 and IM7100.

General specs I’m looking for are:

  • 8 to 48 or more rs232 serial ports on rj45
  • nice-to-have software selectable pinouts (cisco v. straight)
  • gig-e ethernet port (100mbps ok)
  • 1U form factor
  • redundant AC power
  • access physical serial connections via local port #
  • access physical serial connections via local IP alias (nice to have)

Can you recommend a serial port server/concentrator that I could use in place of opengear for a better value and/or lower cost?

I’m just ignorant about the current market for serial port concentrators and so far web searches have not revealed ideas, so your input is appreciated!



Depending on the budget, refurbished Cyclades off ebay do the job well. Very solid and proven products, we still run few dated from 2003 …


I’m deploying new to me Cisco 2811s for console and OOB access.

What we did (and it fits our needs)

SeaLevel (SeaLink Familly) with a Zotak.

We got both Win/Linux/BSD debugging/monitoring station (with 2 1Gbps, 1 MGMT 1 Mirror) and up to 16 serials ports in 1U.

( With some DYI )

I’m sure you can get a better density if you check with them.

Out of curiosity, how do you connect them? I see quotes around
200USD/MRC for ethernet in US, implying 12kUSD 5 year cost on just
connectivity, add rack rental, and power and Opengear price is maybe
10% of TCO?

Personally I still prefer Cisco, as not to have new operating system
to automate. Add conserver to connect persistently to each console
port, so that you get persistent logs from console to your NMS, and so
that you can multiplex your console sessions.
It's hard to recover the CAPEX benefit if you need OOB platform
specific OPEX costs.

Look into OpenGear, we’ve tested out a couple different products that we’ve implemented in remote offices to replace our 2800’s.

2811DC or 2811AC
modem module
4 octals
32port RJ45 bulkhead

Agree. 2811, 2850s and 3845's are dirt cheap on ebay, the nm-32a's (and
HWIC-16a's) work just like you remember in the 2611s and the 2800 series
has enough processor and a new enough IOS to handle ssh acceptably.

Bill Herrin

I’m a big fan of Raritan’s DSX2 gear. Access to serial via ssh or web interface, and the web interface is HTML5, not Java, which is a big advantage if you ever want to use that. I use a bunch of them in production as well and they’ve been rock solid when I’ve needed them for managing Cisco, Juniper, Ubiquiti, and other gear via serial.

Take care,

++ for Opengear. Been happily using them for >10yrs.


There are maybe too many options out there. The used Cyclades are the lowest cost entry point. An ideal solution might be but some assembly required. I have Lantronix OOB solutions in my lab. Most modern servers come with some SOL options so I will assume this is for networking equipment. The modern HTML5 interfaces are great and really do drop all the legacy Java requirements.

I have been deploying Cyclades TS3000 boxes that I can sometimes find
for about $75 each on eBay. The down side is the firmware is a bit old
so the SSH daemon doesn't really support current ciphers. The other
downside is the CLI ia a bit cumbersome.


How about SMART CS series by Seiko solutions?

My favorite are the lantronix SLC console servers. Fairly bullet-proof, they are one of those devices that just work. Can usually be picked up used ~$300 for 32 or 48 port varieties in good condition if you aren’t in the biggest hurry.


a vote for (so far so good) the nodegrid ZPE devices.

If anyone is looking for a product that is reasonably priced and is still being produced/update, the ADVA Optical (aka MRV, aka Xyplex) console servers still work great

From their specs:
4, 8, 16, 32 and 48 serial ports
V.92 modem option
Single or dual power
120-240VAC, 50/60Hz: 0.5A per system
36-72VDC dual feed: 0.75A per system
2 x Ethernet
NEBS Level 3 certified

I just use a Raspberry Pi with USB to Serial adapters or old servers with PCI(-E) 8 port serial cards. They make it so easy to adapt to any environment, and it phones home to my conserver ( gateway. The total cost for hardware is less than $150.


Perle IOLAN SCS series is great. We have them all over the United States.

+++ for Opengear. Manages PDUs and UPS, some models have GPS and 4G LTE options. If additional intelligence is needed for a lights out facility, Uplogix has an interesting solution as well.


David K.

For cheap OOB connectivity that scales, I've had some success with
VDSL for OOB console server connections. Note that I didn't say

In some DCs I've done mutual OOB swaps with other telcos in the same
suite, this is usually cheap or free (excluding the one time xconnect
cost, in suite xconnects often have no recurring charge) but you need
to track them all, often every swap is bespoke, providers come and go
so you need to replace them, if it's free you sometimes don't get
maintenance alerts :wink:

Sometimes the DC provider has an OOB connectivity service that uses
separate transit providers than we use and this often cheap too. Again
this is often bespoke per DC/colo provider though.

The most scalable solution I've been involved in so far is VDSL. Here
in the UK lots of DCs are on-net for the national incumbent VDSL
provider (BT). It means we can have the same style of connection to
most DCs, same physical presentation, same cost, it eases the contract
management for renewing them as we have one supplier etc. The biggest
problem I've experienced with this approach is getting the copper line
to the rack, some DCs charge a small fortune as copper pairs to a rack
is a bespoke service for them, some do it regularly.

I've just moved on from an LLU provider in the UK, a CLEC in US
terminology, we had about 1200 PoPs around the UK most of which were
telephone exchanges. If you want OOB in a DC it's different to a
telephone exchange (well it is here), seeing as the OP hasn't
mentioned if OOB will be in DCs/telephone exchanges/sailing boats/etc.
I think it's worth pointing out tjat VDSL is often not available
within an exchange here and maybe it's the same in the US.