Can anybody give me a concise explanation as to what an access server is and how important it is (if any) to a network. Practically anything you know about it will be appreciated.
The access server basically lets you quickly and easily access several devices via their console port. You can have 8 or 16 connections to console ports.
There is an article telling you how to configure one here:
I bought an access server recently for my home lab (2509). You also need an octal table that converts from the long async connection to 8 rj45 terminated ends. The rj45 ends plug into console ports of other cisco devices. You can then log into your access server either through its console port or with ssh/telnet, then do a 'reverse telnet' into the other devices you are connected to.
Basically you connect to the access server and you use that to console into your other routers/switches without having to move a single console cable around each time you want to connect to a different device. Very handy for a lab environment.