Serial server - a hardware and software approach
In this article, we’ll tell you about the simplest way to share a serial interface across the network. The first section covers hardware RS232 to Ethernet converters. You’ll find out about what it is and what it’s generally used for.
In the second section, we’ll describe an efficient software analog of the hardware serial server. You’ll learn about the basic principles of its work and key benefits that you can get using the software solution instead of a hardware tool.
And, finally, in the third section, we will give you a simple step-by-step instruction of how to easily share a serial port over any network and any distance with just a few clicks.
What is a serial server?
A serial port server is a compact electronic device that converts signals of serial devices to turn them into Ethernet-capable ones. As is known, almost any microcontroller, regardless of the manufacturer, uses the UART interface for communicating with the "outside world". That means a developer can just connect a transceiver chip to the controller to establish a data transmission channel via an RS232 or RS485 interface. However, a serial port has not enough characteristics to create a modern communication system.
On the other hand, there is an advanced Ethernet technology that lets users establish local subnets, connect them, and transfer data over communication channels between geographically separated points around the world. The reasonable decision of communication equipment manufacturers was to incorporate serial interfaces and Ethernet technology. As a result, we have specialized hardware solutions called serial to Ethernet device servers.
Structurally, an RS232 server is a small electronic box that has a standard connector (or several connectors) for the serial interface on one side and a connector for a twisted-pair Ethernet cable on the other side.
Types of hardware serial servers
Hardware COM port servers are typically divided into terminal servers, console servers, and device servers.
With the terminal server, you’ll be able to easily redirect RS232, RS422, or RS485 device data to Ethernet. In case you need to create fast connections over your local network without any sophisticated data protection mechanisms, this type of network serial servers is just what you’re looking for. Terminal servers usually help users create connections between serial devices and server applications.
A console server is a hardware tool used to consolidate console access to as many servers as many ports the device has. The solution will let you connect to network devices such as Unix, Linux, and Windows Servers via a standard console port. The console server is one of the most secure ways to control data and IT assets in remote data centers that is why it’s often used by the specialists of network operations centers (NOC). Serial servers of this type usually support traffic encryption and reliably protect traffic transmitted over a local network.
A device server is a general name that can be applied to any terminal or console server fitting form 1 to 4 serial ports.
Serial server software - FlexiHub
If for any reason you find a hardware solution not efficient enough for your scenario, you can try a software alternative. The dedicated app like FlexiHub can share any serial device across the Internet without any additional software or hardware.