It seems Slashdot has slashdotted their own video host
When will fusion power my house?
.. or they'll switch to stuff with a really free (as in speech) license like the BSD, where people can do whatever they want without fear of litigation from bearded penguins.
I use the router for the network to do it (which is actually one of the switches, with routing support). These are hand-me-down Cisco 3550 that are no longer up to running the production network, mostly because they're not gigglebit switches. Redundancy is less important, since this is the backup for the production network, so no reason to spend a fortune on gear. Obviously someone needs to set up the very first device that goes in by hand, but that can be done from the comfort of the office before sending the box to the datacenter. We use console servers on a third network, set up to let the network people access the network gear's console if everything else is dead. Backup for the backup of the backup
Even if you went the way of serial consoles for your servers, you'd need equipment to do it. Our Avocent Cyclades boxes are a lot more expensive than the old Cisco gear we would've at most have gotten $50 for when traded in for new gear. Even then, you'd need network gear for your console servers. How do you set up the console servers without a console?
DHCP works nicely, and even allows for redundancy if you want. HP SIM takes care of tracking which IP is which, but you could easily set up a script to poll the web server on each iLO card for the serial number to keep an inventory of them.
Raritan is way behind iLO Advanced in every way, but even basic iLO beats it if all you need is the console of a text-only box which covers the majority of my Unix systems. If you do need the extra features, iLO Advanced costs a lot less than a raritan switch and dongle.
Neither solution presents anything as serial, but very few people actually want that. They all have an ethernet connection, separate from the regular ethernet jack, that you can string to a dedicated iLO/RAC switch. If your production network then dies, you can reach the console through your backup network. This backup network is quite possibly where you'd have placed your serial console servers anyway.
I don't know about prices for Dell, but HP comes with basic iLO for free, allowing text console, power on/off and a few other features. The upgrade to Advanced iLO costs very little and gives you graphical console, remote media (virtual floppy and DVD) and a few more.
Raritan is miles behind iLO in terms of usability. The only reason to use that is if you have a bunch of old junk that doesn't have iLO.
Unfortunately, i suspect that they specifically made it completely crazy so they could "cave" on a few horrible points and get the rest of the senseless agreement through.
Don't stop writing your congresscritters, MEPs or whoever else will (pretend to) listen!