An Overview of Remote Server Management Solutions
With the increasing mobilisation of the workforce, which includes its fair share of IT professionals, many IT Managers are finding themselves working in between client locations, from their own homes, or even on the train on the way to work. Thankfully, technology has evolved in sympathy with modern working patterns and a variety of tools are now on offer to allow IT professionals to monitor and manage servers without making the journey all the way to the data centre or client server location itself. Hardware has been evolving in conjunction with software so that many of the mobile solutions on offer are capable of performing far more of the tasks that would previously have been the exclusive domain of the office desktop. Some of the myriad functions that mobile server management solutions can perform today include server restart, shut-down and power-up, traffic monitoring, energy management, security control and ‘Help’ prioritisation/management. Here we’ll provide a brief overview of some of the key mobile server management solutions on offer and how they might be able to assist remote IT performance.
Ready to Wear – Remote Server Management from the Server Vendors Themselves
Remote server management solutions come in two main forms – the solutions which are provided along with the given vendor hardware that is deployed and packages which can be ‘bolted on’ at a later stage. All of the leading server vendors provide their own solutions within both these categories but we’ll look briefly at the ‘bundled’/included offerings, from Dell’s OpenManage to IBM’s Director and HP’s Systems Insight Manager. All these systems now offer remote, web-based server management and with an increasingly sophisticated array of features.
IBM’s Director Remote Deployment Manager (RDM) can help automate deployment tasks, including operating systems installation, disposal of retired systems (for both IBM and non-IBM systems) and can perform BIOS updates. Many day-to-day management tasks can be performed remotely, reducing the need for multiple site visits to the data centre or server location. IBM Director Remote Deployment Manager will run alongside Windows, Linux and VMWare operating systems.
Dell’s Open Manage – Integrated Dell Remote Access Controllers (iDRAC). Dell’s system provides a comprehensive package of server management tools for monitoring server usage, server management and troubleshooting. iDRAC, as well as facilitating remote server upgrades, independent of the operating system status, can provide IT administrators with system notifications and provides an advanced range of power management tools, something which is becoming increasingly important to organisations with environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations.
HP’s Proliant Onboard Administration package (powered by Integrated Lights Out 2) allows administrators to perform setup remotely, monitor system health and also provides power and thermal control and remote administration of Proliant servers. As with the solutions from IBM and DELL outlined above, HP offers this package of monitors and controls from a web browser. HP’s server management systems have been designed to take advantage of its Gen 8 hardware, where the design has itself been informed by insights from its server software i.e. the software and hardware have been developed symbiotically. The Generation 8 servers analyse, monitor and diagnose server data gathered at around 1,600 server parameters and HP’s App and web management tools will provide access to this data to achieve a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of server health. Interestingly, the monitoring data is gathered through the use of a secondary processor and controlled by the Integrated Lights Out application. The mobile App also allows servers to be configured by running cut-and-pasted scripts.
DIY, Non-Vendor Remote Management Solutions – Rove Mobile Admin and Others
One of the most popular tools for remote server management is Rove Mobile Inc’s Rove Mobile Admin App. Many server administrators now use server management apps, like Rove, to perform many of their more straightforward daily tasks. Rove is compatible with all major server operating systems as well as Android, Blackberry and iPhone mobile devices and can assist with a variety of system administration tasks (some 500 of them in fact) and many of the sorts of thing IT managers will typically be required to perform while out-and-about. From changing passwords and restarting servers to performing diagnostic checks, Rove can manage a whole gamut of these day-to-day tasks.
While Rove is one of the more comprehensive mobile server management packages available, other solutions, for instance WinAdmin, are available and at considerably less expense, but it is worth bearing in mind the relative affordability of a package such as Rove as against a solution purchased from one of the major vendors, such as IBM or HP.
Depending on the specific server system in discussion, there are a range of remote solutions on offer which can provide system administrators with an increasing range of monitors and controls, and all at a distance. To find out more about our server hosting solutions, please get in touch with a member of the Datanet team.