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2. 8 and 16 ports (there are larger units, but we do not need that many ports)
3. not much
4. varies by model -- its good to be able to mix and match the hardware for the location.
5. varies by model (~$3.5K)
6. See above.
In our datacenters the number of network gear that we have serial access to is quite small; we don't go down to the top-of-rack switches.
From personal experience at 9600Bps you can go further than twisted pair ethernet (we do not go anywhere near that with avocents)
We have a central out-dial server as we only have 1 analogue line within a hundred feet of me. It has the Red phone of last resort on it (if someone calls me on the red phone we have BIG issues)
I use a Cisco router like a 2801 or 2811 with a HWIC-16A card in it. This will provide 16 simultaneous console connections. It works great, I have no concerns with it. We also have some old 2511's and 2611's as well.
I have no redundancy for the device. If it dies, then I would just get it fixed. But remember Cisco gear doesn't die You'd have to be pretty unlucky for your terminal server to die on the same day that you most need it.
I do hook the terminal server up to both core switches so that if one of the core switches dies, then the terminal server is still accessible.