Remote Tools for Network Administrators

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Be honest—do your users drive you up a wall? Do they hover around while you tirelessly slave away to get their machines running properly? Don’t you just wish you could get it all taken care of from your own desk? Well, you can. There are plenty of remote tools on the market that are designed to enable users or network administrators to remotely connect to PCs. Some of these are more user-oriented remote-control tools, which give users the ability to work on a PC from a completely different location, giving them mouse and keyboard control. Others are larger remote-access suites designed specifically for harried network admins to work on multiple computers from their own desktop.

Obviously, these capabilities come with a lot of the major software products offered by the big guys, like Microsoft and company. I’m not going to focus on those, because you likely already know what they do. That said, I can’t avoid mentioning Citrix, which is one of the top companies in the access space. For those who want to drop some bucks, Citrix’s access infrastructure provides secure and simple access to enterprise applications and more to end users, as well as allowing IT departments to manage, deploy, monitor and measure assorted applications and systems from a centralized location. You also can observe, monitor and measure the activities of users who are remotely accessing your systems. This is all packaged as the Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite.

One of the better-known products in the remote-access space is NetOp Remote Control v8.0 from CrossTec Corp. This latest version was released in February of this year and added improvements for security, platform support, communication and speed. It also includes new features, such as a remote management utility, which allows you to perform daily maintenance on the host’s desktop without interrupting the end user. NetOp works across numerous platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Sun Solaris, as well as legacy OS/2 and DOS PCs. What’s more, you can use it from your desktop, Pocket PC, Internet browser or even a USB Flash drive. Using the tool, you can see the remote PC’s screen and control its keyboard and mouse, and you can synchronize files, inventory hardware and software, launch applications or chat with whoever’s sitting there while you do it all. NetOp has regular security features—password protection, user notification and encryption. It also offers a NetOp Gateway Server module, a secure inbound/outbound software router for up to 200 sessions. You can download a “test flight” evaluation copy for free, and according to the Web site, some IT pros have taken the money they’ve saved using this free version to buy the real thing.

For those whose organizations are running on Macs, Apple offers Apple Remote Desktop 2 for the OS X platform. You can use this tool to distribute software, configure systems, offer online help and create reports on hardware and software for every Mac system running on your network via your own Mac desktop. Apple Remote Desktop offers simultaneous screen sharing of up to 50 client screens—not only for Mac systems, but any Virtual Network Computing (VNC)-enabled computer, including Windows, Linux or UNIX systems. You can collect information on more than 200 aspects of each Mac on your network. Even better, you can still keep track of those Macs that have a tendency to roam around with their users.

Symantec’s pcAnywhere 11.5 is a remote-control solution that allows management of Linux and Windows remotely. You can also manage both platforms from a Java-enabled Web browser running on whatever system you like. Bandwidth Auto-Detect helps you optimize performance over any kind of connection, and it comes with built-in AES 256-bit encryption to protect communication between client and host machines. With the pcAnywhere Mobile version, you can use your Pocket PC to access the host via any TCP/IP connection—wired or wireless, choose your poison. A Host Conferencing feature comes in handy for training or collaboration, allowing for multiple remote users to connect at the same time to a single host.

Netopia’s Timbuktu Pro is another remote-control tool, designed for Mac and Windows systems. You can connect via the Internet, the local network or modem to modem and use Timbuktu to control the host computer. There are several package options, including one for Mac OS X, one for Windows (2000, XP or 2003 Server), one for both, and an Enterprise Edition, which combines all versions with enhance deployment, integration and security. This version is only available for companies with at least 100 computers, and allows for high-performance remote control to help with OS and platform migrations.

You can find a lot more remote tools—most of them shareware or freeware—at www.networkingfiles.com/RAS/RAS.htm. Isn’t it nice to get those users off your back?

Emily Hollis is managing editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at ehollis@certmag.com.

 

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