Definition

remote server management

Contributor(s): Corinne Bernstein

Remote server management is a market segment that includes products and services that enable IT professionals to monitor and control data centers from offsite. These offerings include various solutions spanning over network support, off-hours server support, remote monitoring and management (RMM) software and services and hardware-based tools. Data center managers rely on these remote server management technologies and services to extend their reach by controlling servers and systems without physical access to them. As companies embrace server consolidation to improve efficiency, save money and reduce the footprint of the primary data center, getting essential services and applications to branches and partners can be achieved by deploying a remote server.

However, remote server management does not necessarily mean that an organization installs distributed servers. In fact, an organization may successfully consolidate its servers into a single site, and those servers will likely be managed from a remote or even a mobile location. The tools and services organizations select should depend on the kind environment they will be used in as well as their cost and complexity constraints.

Software and Hardware

Two key benefits of remote management software are the ability to see and resolve potential problems and the ability to schedule automated tasks and maintenance. Remote server management software ranges from out-of-the-box to more advanced, configurable offerings. Hosted software as well as cloud-based remote management-as-a-service offerings are available. Additionally, some software products have broad feature sets that might combine remote access with additional systems management features such as reporting and analytics, patch management, active discovery, system backup and recovery, managed anti-malware, risk assessment and automation. Further, many traditional enterprise IT systems management tools provide some level of remote management capability.

RMM software is a type of application that enables IT service providers to keep tabs on their clients' IT systems, including servers, by providing performance data and other reports that service technicians can review. Service providers can also execute management tasks, such as patching, updates and service configurations, on the client's systems. These functions can be done remotely rather than onsite.

However, software tools work only when the server being managed is operating normally. Hardware-based tools enable a remote administrator to monitor, configure and control more of the server’s hardware elements over a network as if the administrator were sitting at the local console. Many blade systems incorporate remote management capabilities that provide remote administrators with Web-based access to diagnostics and control over the physical box.

Virtualization adds flexibility to remote management but does not affect the underlying goals of remote server management. Virtualization provides more control and options than traditional non-virtualized boxes. One example is live migration of virtual machines (VMs). A remote administrator can move VMs between remote physical servers for maintenance or to minimize the impact of a remote server reboot. Similarly, new VMs can be provisioned remotely with the same speed and ease that is experienced locally.

Uptime and Security

The availability and reliability of the wide area network (WAN) connection between the main computer and remotely managed systems are essential to effective remote server management. The WAN connection is the lifeline between the management system in the office and the remote systems. Internet outages can be devastating for remote server management because they prevent administrators from detecting issues, migrating workloads and provisioning. Organizations may want to consider a backup or secondary WAN option to avoid problems resulting from outages.

Security is also a major concern for remote server management. An unauthorized intruder with access to remote servers can potentially access or delete critical data, alter system configurations, apply malware and engage in other damaging activities that can leave workloads, or the whole data center, unavailable. Organizations must use encryption and secure login credentials, as well as apply firewalls and gateways.

This was last updated in December 2018

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