Serial over Ethernet Solutions

If you want to transmit RS232, RS422 or RS485 data across an IP network, keep reading – you are in the right place. The terminology used in this area is broad. The purpose of this page is to familiarize you with the terminology and the type of solutions available on the market to meet your needs.

Perle Systems has been a leader in this industry since 1976 and provides serial to Ethernet solutions for basic to the most advanced applications.

Everywhere you look for serial to Ethernet solutions you will find references to Terminal Servers, Serial Servers, Device Servers and Console Servers. The most common questions is, ‘What is the difference?’ followed closely by, “Which one do I need?’

What is the difference?

The simple answer – None. It is all marketing terminology. Over the years, the leaders in Serial over Ethernet Solutions have launched out new terminology to try to differentiate themselves from the competition. In the end, this marketing strategy has had one result – confusion for you – the customer. To help you navigate this marketing maze, here are the simple differentiators that marketing uses to classify products that all, pretty much, do the same thing.

Terminal Servers (also referred to as Serial Servers) enable companies to quickly and easily connect devices with an RS232, RS422 or RS485 serial interface to Ethernet LANs. Products marketed as Terminal Servers can be very simple devices that do not offer any security functionality, such as data encryption and user authentication. The primary application scenario is so that these devices can access network server applications, or vice versa, where security of the data on the LAN is not generally an issue.

Serial-Ethernet Terminal Server

Console Servers provide secure remote access to Unix Servers, Linux Servers, Windows Servers and any device on the network with a console port. The purpose is to allow network operations center (NOC) personnel to perform secure remote data center management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world. Products marketed as Console Servers usually have highly advanced security functionality to ensure that only qualified personnel can access various servers and that any data that is transmitted across the LAN, or over the Internet, is encrypted. Marketing a product as a console server is very application specific because it really refers to what the user wants to do - remotely control, monitor, diagnose and troubleshoot equipment over a network or the Internet.

Serial-Ethernet Console Server

Device Servers are the most difficult to define because this is the ‘newest’ marketing term. Generally a Device Server is any Terminal Server or Console Server with 1 to 4 serial ports. The functionality of these products is identical to Terminal Servers but they may or may not have security features of a Console Server. It is really all about port count.

Serial-Ethernet Device Server

Which one do I need?

Perle has revolutionized the serial over Ethernet marketing by make the choice of products easy for you. We have taken the unique position of making all software features (secure and standard) available across all products in the Terminal Server, Console Server and Device Server classes. Perle is the first company that will not make you choose a product based on the software features that you may want or need. Every feature is on every product. You only need to choose your needed hardware platform to learn more: