I’ve been meaning to do this review for some time now, but life tends to get in the way. With the new year behind us, my first resolution was to tie up some loose ends, and this review is one of those! I’ve been playing with the opengear Resilience Gateway for a few months now, and I’ve got to say – I’m impressed. opengear has managed to squeeze a lot of functionality into a tiny little box, and they’re doing it for a very low price. I’m kind of getting ahead of myself, so lets talk about the device.
The opengear Reisliance Gateway is a combination terminal server, Celular Internet Gateway, and physical location monitor (think contact closures) which could be tied to things like door alarms, temperature sensors, water detectors, etc. Form-factor wise, its just a bit larger (but not much) than those old 5-port steel NetGear switches that I loved so much back in the day. Ultra portable.
I’m a little torn on my thoughts about the overall user interface. On one hand, configuration was kind of clunky often confusing, but on the other hand, they DO expose the full linux operating system to you through the serial interface, so you’ve got some killer-awesome flexibility for what you can make this device do – Personally, I’m willing to call that a fair tradeoff.
Cellular connectivity (or at least signal strength) was hit or miss. One minute I’d show full strength, and then nothing. Full strength again, and then nothing, however most of the time the connection appeared to stay up, so maybe its just an indicated signal strength issue. I’m not sure whether to blame the device, or blame my carrier (although my cell phone doesn’t exhibit the same behavior) so you’ll want to do a little testing of your own as far as this goes. I was using AT&T during my evaluation of the unit.
Setting the unit up to behave as ‘just another internet connection’ using IP Passthrough took a little doing (the configuration likes to lock down DHCP to the first MAC-address the unit sees, after that it’s a game of changing it in the config if you want to connect a different device (I was going back and forth between a router and a laptop) but it does work. Using this approach, and appropriate modifications to your local network, it’s possible to leverage the Cisco IP SLA feature set to detect WAN failures, and swing over connectivity to the opengear device, allowing you basic internet connectivity in the event of WAN failure. I’m sure it’s possible to even extend this to offer up some advanced VPN automation, but I didn’t take things that far in my testing.
The terminal server / console server features were easy enough to configure, and one really cool feature I liked was the ability to use a Web Console to interact with the connected device, above and beyond simple serial to IP redirection. This would be very convenient as far as remote device support goes.
All in all, my experience with the opengear Resilience Gateway was a positive one. I did need to call technical support on more than one occasion, and they were very quick to engage, and able to resolve my issues each time. I can see this device making itself home in any of the datacenters I support in the future. Thanks to opengear for supplying me with a demo unit for purposes of performing this evaluation, and thanks for not getting on my back about ‘are you done yet?’ – I really wanted to give this device a fair shake, and you’ve allowed me to do that, even though it took a little bit longer than I had originally anticipated.