Posted on June 23, 2020 by Gento
The benefits of Network connected KVM switches highlighted in Raritan blog about remote management of IT devices show how businesses can continue as usual while keeping staff safe amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although the worst seems to be over and lockdown restrictions are easing, a resurgence of the infection is still very real. Thus, employees should continue working from home or offsite where feasible, with support from remote tools.
This article gives 8 practical tips when purchasing remote access management solutions to ensure that your business objectives are achieved, while keeping an eye on existing corporate resources to maximize your investment.
1. Implementing remote access and control with existing resources
As any IT device with KVM or serial interface can be remotely accessed, a company can readily enable employee PCs, laptops, browsers, and devices for working remotely. This saves on expenses and speeds up the process of implementation.
2. Enabling older KVM switch hardware in corporate infrastructure
Firmware Updates of older legacy KVM and Serial console hardware may provide a solution for seamless integration into a remote access policy, without additional equipment purchase. Out-of-the-box (off-the-shelf) management hardware needs to be maintained with regular firmware updates as older firmware may not support modern OS, browsers, security protocols or sometimes Java versions. More importantly, outdated firmware may not have patches for addressing security gaps. Raritan’s Dominion range of KVM and Serial console switches receive regular updates, provide a Java Free experience from Desktop and even Mobile Browsers. When you have multiple locations or hundreds of IT devices that need to be remotely accessed, then Raritan’s CommandCenter® Secure Gateway system, also allows secure Java-free remote management of IT devices throughout the enterprise.
3. Must-have remote functionalities for SMEs with limited resources
Basic functions of a network connected KVM or serial console switch, should be access via web interface, and support for multiple user logins and accounts. However, features in Tip #4 are highly recommended for better security and business operations. It is not advisable to use free or sometime paid remote access software like VNC, Teamviewer, Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection and Google Chrome Remote Desktop within a business environment as they require the software to be installed, maintained, and running, not to mention the real security risk.
4. Key features and requirements for remote access and control
a) Staff using diverse devices, apps and software
Tools for monitoring, authentication, access control, audit trails, event tracking, alarms/alerts, reporting, and determining access by who, when, what, and how.
b) Integrating with existing and new/ future corporate equipment
There should be integration with active directory services, software tools like remote desktop protocol and virtual network computing, and embedded service processors (e.g. Dell Remote Access Control and HP Integrated Lights-Out). APIs will allow seamless connectivity with heterogenous platforms, operating systems and software, especially for new conferencing and collaborative apps.
c) Security while accessing mission-critical resources such as utilities, energy plant, etc.
KVM can be used to bridge networks while still keeping them secure. Most remote access solutions offer a gateway or Internet relay service to access closed systems of an enterprise’s network.
d) Remote power supply management
Connecting remote power control with physical power distribution unit, or via network, provides many advantages. It offers convenient remote power and environmental monitoring without stepping into the facility. Enterprises can enjoy huge savings on energy bill by powering off servers and equipment when not needed. Rebooting of servers or outlets for new devices can be done remotely for greater efficiency, while power-on sequencing ensures maximum uptime.
e) Increasing ports for more devices or add-on functionality like video
Adding multiple switches onto the same network allows increase in the number of ports to where they are needed. For instance, Raritan’s DKX3-UST provides a single Video Output for multiple KVM switches and other devices.
f) Servicing and upgrades of software, hardware and firmware
For big organizations with hundreds of devices requiring support, centralized administration of remote access is critical. Using a consolidated access and management solution such as Raritan’s CommandCenter® Secure Gateway eases maintenance tasks, software/firmware upgrades, hardware settings changes, virus/malware protection, and IT resource management.
5. Beware of potential shortcomings or risks about remote access tools and solutions
Risks come with any IT system and cannot be overemphasized. Devices and software need to be installed correctly by trained people, who should also look at security vulnerabilities such as cyber attacks. The security team should ensure that everyone in the organization share a common remote access guideline and comply with all security provisions.
Another noteworthy issue is not having enough computer interface modules (CIMs) in the corporate system or CIMs with the correct video connection, since old and new IT devices may have different interfaces.
6. Upgrade/ Future-proofing remote access investment for increased network usage and potential security issues
For future needs, consider a system that can be expanded and applied to any modern or legacy equipment, with planning and set-up designed around a dedicated out-of-the-box network.
Collaborating with trusted solution providers, suppliers and partners is critical, where resource sharing must adhere to policies and permissions, device groups, folders, and security.
7. Contingency plan for changed business operations
Remote access and control system integrate into a company’s network, server, storage, power, facility and management teams for running their business. The solution represents a tool that may be used less as business needs change, but it will always be necessary. Remote access tools are embedded into same-origin security policies, which means they offer the most secure way for managing the IT infrastructure.
8. Hidden costs in remote access and control
Network switch port, cabling, structured cabling, and IP addresses are some costs that may not be obvious. Check with your service providers to clarify.