We all thought the 1990s were the era of distributed computing. Little did we know just how distributed things would get, even for federal networks, and how difficult it would be to successfully manage a highly distributed network.
Remote management is the clear solution. There are a wide variety of remote management tools available today. Although it’s not a new technology, remote management has become more critical as networks have become more disparate.
Unfortunately, it can be much easier to get it wrong than to get it right. Getting it right takes an understanding of your current needs, infrastructure, and how things may evolve; an understanding of what you need to manage; and how best to perform remote management within your agency.
Getting remote management right requires three steps: planning, investing in the right tools, and taking a big-picture approach.
Step One: Planning
As with any new project or implementation, you must know where you are and where you want to go before you can get started. The same holds true when implementing remote management.
Start with an assessment. Use a discovery tool to understand what you have and where things are located. Then, gain an understanding of compatibility and performance: are databases, routers, severs, applications, and operating systems all performing optimally? Perform baseline measurements to be sure you can differentiate between normal activity and a potential “event,” or identify trends that may not occur as suddenly, but have a similarly large impact.
The next part of planning is understanding the future. Will there be architecture changes or a need for increased bandwidth? What types of devices will need to be managed during the next, say, three years—including Internet of Things (IOT) devices? Take as much into account as possible with the understanding that there is no way to predict every change.
Finally, the planning phase includes goals: what do you want to manage? Different tools will provide vastly different types of information. It is important to have an understanding of the depth to which you want to manage remote devices.
You’ve completed step one when you have a solid foundation of understanding of what you have now, what you may have in the future, and what you want to accomplish.
Step Two: Investing in the right tools
The foundation created in step one will drive the decisions within step two.
Invest in tools that will give you all the information and control you need. For example, consider tools that give you information about remote devices before you connect to them. Taking that concept even further, consider tools that do far more than simple remote control or basic troubleshooting. Remote administration should be your goal if you’re looking to maximize your time and investment.
Tools are available to assist with diagnostics and perform remote administration, as well as those that can access a system and perform tasks without interrupting the user. When selecting which tools to use, one must consider scalability and flexibility, as well as government security requirements such as smart card support.
By investing in the necessary tools to assist in diagnostics, repairs, and management, agencies can prepare their networks to solve issues that arise.
Step Three: Taking a big-picture approach
A complete approach will involve best-in-class tools, each of which specialize in a specific part of remote management. That said, the most important point is to be sure all those tools work together.
Especially when managing a highly disparate infrastructure, it is absolutely necessary to be able to see the bigger picture—to see how everything is operating as a whole, and to be able to drill down to the individual network, server, or end-user device to troubleshoot and solve problems that may arise.
Not only does this provide value in understanding and quicker problem-resolution, a holistic approach allows the federal IT pro to leverage automation and other methods to improve efficiency even further.
It is hard to imagine a successful federal IT pro that does not have a solid remote-management solution in place. Successful remote management can help federal IT teams manage multiple disparate systems at once, from a single management point; remotely diagnose and rectify problems within the network; and leverage automation to improve efficiency—all of which will help teams more effectively focus on the agency’s mission.