SUMMARY: Terminal server recommendations?

From: Michael Miller (
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 10:07:32 CDT


I had the following input for Terminal Concentrators:

MicroAnnex (4 votes)
Lightwave Communications System Console Switch (3 votes)
Aurora Technolgies ( (2 votes)
Lucent Portmaster 2/E (2 votes)
Stallion PCI card (1 vote)
Cisco 3600 (1 vote)
Cisco 2511/2611 (1 vote)
Central Data (1 vote)
Black Box (1 vote)
MAXserver from NBase-Xyplex (1 vote)
IOLan boxes (1 vote)

I think I will recommend getting a MicroAnnex as they are what
Sun recommends for their Clusters.

Thanks again to the people who replied (listed at the bottom of this
message!). It is appreciated!


Some comments I received:
  We are moderately pleased with the Cisco 2511 and 2611. They have warts,
they fit into our telecom business pretty well. I am evaluating a LightWave
console server - seems pretty nice.
Very happy with Micro Annex in the past.
Go for the one where the vendor will supply the cables to connect to the sun
tty ports (correctly wired, of course) for the lowest price. You'd be amazed
how the price of the cables can hike up the price of the overall buy.
We've just set up a Stallion PCI card (EasyConnection) in a Solaris x86 box.
Alternative is their Easyserver II.

OK, it's expensive, but I'd recommend using a Cisco 3600 series router with
serial port cards.

        Port density:
                The 3620 will support a maximum of 64 serial ports (on 2x32
                port boards), the 3640 supports up to 128 ports (4x32)

                Cisco TACACS support, the usual IOS stuff to set up ACLs

        No "BREAK" problem!
                They do not send a BREAK on disconnect or power cycle.

        No permanently busy ports:
                It's possible to force a connected port to disconnect
                when you're connected via the serial console and your
                modem/network/whatever hiccups, leaving a running console
                session that you aren't in control of).

  If you have a box that can take a small additional load, I absolutely
recommend Aurora Tech's Control Tower. It is a software package that will
run on Suns ( and others possibly, never checked), you buy a couple
multiport serial cards, and you get a excellent console management. It
offers ACLs, logging, and since it is running on a sun, you can use SSH to
encrypt your console sessions. I've deployed it at a few sites, and it
has been easy to install, and you are up in running in a few minutes.
We are currently using the Lightwave Communications System Console Switch It provides up to 12
ports per rack mount unit and they can be daisy chained up to 10 units for
control of up to 120 serial console ports. We found a major problem with
terminal servers/concentrators was that when a console got a message, if a
terminal server port was used for the console, the message got lost. With
the System console switch, there is a 32K buffer maintained for each console
port, and once you switch to that console session, you can page through the
last 32K of messages. One disadvantage is that only 1 terminal can be used
per chain of switches, which could severly limit usage if multiple users
needed access at the same time.

Lightwave Communications has recently added a new product to their lineup,
the Console Server 3200. Like the System Console Switch, it has a buffer to
store console messages received while no one is connected to the console,
but the buffer has been increased to 64K per port. The Console Server 3200
also allows up to 32 serial consoles to be monitored, and allows up to 17
concurrent users to access those 32 serial ports. There also appears to be
a network interface that allows telneting to this unit (I am not positive,
as I have only read the boilerplates on their web site ). There also appears
to be some limited text search capabilities included.
Central Data makes some scsi terminal servers with RJ45 ports that can be
daisy chained. You would need a Sun box to attach them...
I have a unit that I bought from black box. It only has 8 ports (they sell
a 16 port one as well) and doesn't have all the functionality of the Annex
boxes but for the money, you can't beat it.
Try a MAXserver from NBase-Xyplex. Be aware that most terminal servers
(particularily Cisco products) send a "send brk" on serial line which
force the O.K. prompt on the Sun server. That's why Sun insists on using
Micro Annex, but Maxserver won't do that too. I do recommend the flash
There are available models for 4,8,20,40 ports.
We have a very good relationships with them.

Many thanks to the following for providing your valued input:

Dennis Riddick
Changa Anderson
Greg Polanski
Will Robinson
Bill Hathaway
Brice Zimmer
Joe Thykattil
Willian Kupersanin
Steve Turgeon
Rob Rheault
George Done
Pat Eyler
Adrian Singh
Greg Koolbeck

Original posting:

----- Original Message -----
> Subject: Terminal server recommendations?
> Hi,
> I'm currently investigating which terminal concentrator we should buy. Up
> till now we have simply been lugging a laptop and serial cable to the Sun
> box which needed attention. What terminal concentrators do you guys use
> recommend.
> I am looking at attaching about 15 - 20 boxes to the TC.
> I have used the Micro Annex ones before on Sun Clusters and they seem ok.
> I've been looking at the IOLan and Shiva Ports too.
> Any recommendations? I will summarize!
> thanks in advance.
> Mike

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