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Remote Administration vs. Phone Support?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the trust-vs-improved-problem-resolution dept.

Technology 163

Korgan asks: "I work for a company in which our primary focus is phone based support and helpdesk operations. Lately I have been involved in the trialing of several products that essentially allow agents to provide support across the Internet using remote administration using an ASP model. Examples of this type of technology in action are DesktopStreaming and ePeople. Does the community have any ideas and suggestions as to what they think would be the benefits and detriments of remote administration over phone based support?" In my humble opinion, remote administration is much more efficient than phone support from the obvious standpoint of communication. Many times phone support can be hampered due to the miscommunications which can occur on both ends of the phone rather than a knowledgeable user who can access to the system and diagnose the problem in a matter of minutes. The major problem with remote administration, however, boils down to a simple matter of trust: most companies don't.

"The primary target of this is the corporate end user. I have been asked to provide reasons to the MD of the company that would qualify savings and improvements in KPI (key performance indicator) and SL's (service levels) and to justify why the initial expense would prove to be an overall savings in the long run. Things along the line of reduced problem resolution time, faster response, increased technician productivity and the like have already been considered. I am sure that there are many more reasons out there for a remote administration tool/service being more practical, cost effective and generally better than the standard phone based support most corporates employ."

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Re:Not quite ?! wrong ;-) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#430651)

this has been done yet - x0rfbserver
It exports an running X desktop, so it can be used like WinVNC. And of course it's GPLed and uses the same protocol as VNC.

x0rfbserver.hexonet.com [hexonet.com]

Re:Remote control v. good - can be nightmare (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#430652)

I work for a state govt (to remain nameless to shield the incompetent), and remote admin of our Novell network is awful. They foist changes on us without warning and without testing, trashing people's machines, removing Admin privs from developers and other admins that must have them, and generally causing as many problems as they solve. I have seen this happen in the corporate world as well. Developers used to having the ability to edit their registry settings suddenly finding that they don't have them (no notice), and then being blocked from an essential task and having to notify their managers and then a big political battle to get back needed privileges. And there is NO WAY that I want a support person logging on my home PCs! My ISP (@Home, I have a cable modem) took me out for 2 days by screwing things up on my DNS server. So what happens when I call them up? They say the problem is on MY computer, and their analyst proceeds to have me rip out all kinds of things that I end up having to put back! GRRRRR!!! Don't get me wrong - I am FOR the concept - but ideals and the real world soon go their separate ways, and until I see significant improvements in support management and the level of expertise of support personnel, I see more problems than benefits.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (5)

joss (1346) | more than 13 years ago | (#430655)

"Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime,"

I prefer this version: "build a man a fire, and he's warm for an hour, set a man on fire, and he's warm for the rest of his life"

A tool for keeping customers tied (2)

slim (1652) | more than 13 years ago | (#430656)

I once worked at a school where we had an computerised register-taking system. The thing is, this thing was a proprietary as hell: a maze of DOS .BAT scripts and FoxPro (or similar) databases and custom applications. While the staff involved were given training in using the system when it worked, any maintenance or troubleshooting was done remotely using PCAnywhere.

Essentially, the remote administration was provided in lieu of any kind of training or detailed documentation, and as a result the school would have to continue paying an annual fee to the company involved for as long as they wished to keep the system running.

In all fairness, many schools must be grateful to be able to look at the system as a black box, and the remote admin we got was very good.
--

Re:Remote administration (1)

Sabalon (1684) | more than 13 years ago | (#430657)

Can we not have one thread on here that doesn't come back to "free" and "it's just a windows thing"?

Odd thing is I can remote admin my win2k box from my linux box with VNC just fine, and vica-versa.

Not every solution must have a Linux or open/free component to it. Remember - News for Nerds, not Linux News.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (2)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 13 years ago | (#430658)


Since when did "Engineer" mean "Tech support monkey" ?


--

Re:Remote control v. good (1)

Spirilis (3338) | more than 13 years ago | (#430659)

Heh, we got it bass-ackwards here. We have a remote control program for our computer lab computers, but we only use it for snooping, not for remote support. Students/teachers actually come to us when they need help. It makes for meeting girls easier, although not really since most girls probably aren't turned on by a bunch of geeks in jeans and untucked t-shirts hovering over her showing her how to save a file ;-)

Re:remote admin is popular, and an old topic : uni (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 13 years ago | (#430660)

That's SSH, remember!

"Either-or" is a dumb way to look at it. (2)

alumshubby (5517) | more than 13 years ago | (#430661)

There are times when I want to be walked through a procedure in order to learn it for myself, and there are times when I want tech support to save us both time and just fix the damn thing.

Re:Remote control v. good (2)

larien (5608) | more than 13 years ago | (#430662)

All those minutes add up :)

It's a fair point about in-house vs external support, but if you can overcome the trust issues involved, it makes life a lot easier.
--

Remote control v. good (3)

larien (5608) | more than 13 years ago | (#430664)

We use Novell/NT here, and remote administration is absolutely brilliant.

If we remote control a user's PC, we don't have to leave our desk to fix a problem on a computer at the other end of the building. If it's something complicated, we can do the work from our desk, without having to tell the end-user how to do it.

As an example, we had a new member of staff yesterday who had to have email set up. Rather than tell her "type this in this box, then click on OK" (after figuring out which box it is...) I was able to type in the details from my desk and only had to get her to type in her password. The email program was set up in about a minute; doing this by talk-through would have taken at least double that.

In short, you save on staff time, so you don't need so many staff (ie, savings for the company). The staff don't get so stressed (have you tried talking someone through tech support?) as well.

The only potential downside is that staff don't get as much exercise as they don't have to leave their desk, possibly leading to eye-strain (staring at the screen all the time) and other problems. These can be alleviated by rest breaks and properly designed workstations.
--

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (2)

jwilloug (6402) | more than 13 years ago | (#430665)

That statement from the Bible "Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime," holds true here.
And yet, remarkably, the supermarket down the street does a brisk business in salmon steaks. I don't like to fish and don't want to learn how, I'm more than happy to pay someone else to do it for me. Yes, even though it means I'll never eat a decent mullet. For better or worse, a lot of folks feel the same way about computers.

Re:Security problems - a solution (2)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 13 years ago | (#430666)

well, getting a gui is /so/ much better than talking someone thru a blind procedure (and HOPING they're clicking what you think they are clicking).

One solution to having a security risk open is to have a remote control agent available but not always running. say PCANywhere is installed, but not waiting for connections. Then if someone has an issues, you can ask them to launch PCANywhere, connect and tweak, then shut it down, and move on to the next issue w/o wasting time making a big deal out of every little thing.

Security problems (4)

yabHuj (10782) | more than 13 years ago | (#430668)

The "ASP" biztalk aside (that's just a funky workd used here for a webserver with request forms), these seem to be standard helpdesk companies which use a remote management tool (like VNC, ReachOut, pcAnywhere, CCM, etc).

You basically allow the help desk to remotely control your employee's client PCs. This means that - if you do not throw a dedicated line or big VPN solution - every single PC has to be addressable to internet. Even with a well designed firewall in place this introduces quite a risk for DoS attacks against the clients.

So if you open your company to be remotely managed by external help desks keep an eye on your security needs. Especially take care that you do not open a backdoor through the help desk system (your_net --> VPN --> help desk --> VPN --> other_net) and that liabilities and NDAs are safe and watertight for you.

Remotely managing clients can ease administration quite a bit (as posted before), but can become quite a hassle if the system does not work properly.

And make sure security does not become second. The admin tool either must require the user to confirm session shareing and enable him to immediately regain full control (by pressing a(ny) key) in case of problems - or enforce login as different user (which will log out the current user if he does not abort that with confirming a "really logout" popup box). Otherwise you will not be able to tell who did this or that possibly unpleasant change.

Trialing (2)

tregoweth (13591) | more than 13 years ago | (#430669)

Lately I have been involved in the trialing of
several products


Trialing is a word?

-j

Whistler for this (2)

Osty (16825) | more than 13 years ago | (#430673)

This issue has been addressed by the upcoming Windows XP (codename Whistler). Based on Terminal Server, Windows XP allows you to setup one-time trust relationships with a set time duration, allowing somebody else to gain remote access to your desktop for situations like this. Really neat stuff.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

MISplice (19058) | more than 13 years ago | (#430676)

I work for a large firm that uses Intel LanDesk to remotely administer workstations. We are encouraged to use it because it has proven to be a very effective tool in supporting or client base.

If every time your user has a problem, you fix it without explaining what caused it, you're going to potentially decrease the learning rate of your user base. In other words, users will commonly repeat the same mistakes, and you will commonly repeat the same fix.

this statement can hold true. But any good support person would not only remote the machine but would also explain to the user what they were doing while they are working on the PC. A lot of people learn buy doing or seeing what is going on. So as you take them through each step you tell them what your doing. Or you can actually do the remote control as a window so you can see what the user is seeing and still talk them through it so they get the experience but be better able to see if they make a mistake.

what if they have porn as their background and the helpdesk person is offended by this?

One he said this is for a corporate environment so if anyone has porn on their machine they should be reprimanded in some way (Unless the corporation is in the Porn industry) Second most remote agents have a feature which allows you to suppress any backgrounds for speed purposes( Who wants to wait for a hugh picture to load on the desktop when the fix could have been done before it even loads.) Just my 2 cents

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 13 years ago | (#430677)

"Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime,"

1) This only works if he happens to live near water.

2) I like the version I saw the other day: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he'll sit in a boat all day drinking beer."

VNC - the lifesaver (1)

gruntvald (22203) | more than 13 years ago | (#430678)

I support Engineers around the country, and have been able to solve literally hundreds of problems and questions quickly and easily by hitting the VNC java applet from my browser that allows me to control a Windows NT desktop. I've been able to do it from any location, too, because the only requirement for the administrator is a PC with a java enabled browser - simple enough. It works snappily over a VPN connection too, so I can help from home. Typically the support calls fall into two categories - 1) confusion over operation, so I'll demonstrate to the user while talking to them on the phone, or 2) a real problem, in which I'll dig right in and fix it. I don't have to talk them through rudimentary tests "Click on start .... " etc. I used to do that, and found that when I went to the VNC model, my support call time went down 90% in duration!

Beware the quick and easy path (3)

novarese (24280) | more than 13 years ago | (#430680)

Remote admin can be attractive since you don't actually have to interact with the lusers, but in the end, unless you use it wisely it will create more work for you.

When you actually speak with a user on the phone (or better yet see them face to face), you have a valuble opportunity to *educate* them so they won't repeat their mistake. Sure, you can send them an email after you remotely fixed their problem, but they probably wont read it and they almost certainly wont retain anything from it. In fact, they learn better if you simply tell them what to do and let them actually execute the steps to fix it.

Phil Agre has an excellent guide to helping people use computers [ucla.edu] that anyone working in a support or helpdesk position should read.

Remote administration is feature in Windows XP (2)

harmonica (29841) | more than 13 years ago | (#430682)

According to this article (in German) [spiegel.de] , that kind of remote administration is a feature in Windows XP.

My favourite quote - Microsofts Jim Allchin on the question whether that introduces a potential security risk: 'nothing can happen, the data is encrypted'.

;-)

use Novell NDS and ZENworks 3 (3)

jakob_grimm (38102) | more than 13 years ago | (#430684)

We use Novell NetWare and ZENworks. It rocks for app distribution, workstation inventory, and remote administration. ZEN 3 has even more features, plus you can integrate your Linux machines into the NDS tree.

http://www.novell.com/products/zenworks/desktops /w hatsnew.html

Re:Security problems - a solution (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#430685)

That's how we did it at my last job. Customer has a problem, they fire up the remote hosting software, we connect and fix the problem, they shut down the host software.

Re:Trialing (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#430686)

Come on, haven't you ever heard of verbing ? (Verbing being a case of verbing.) Very common in the english language.

Remote administration (5)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#430687)

If you provide onsite support it can certainly save on travel time, especially if the end user is in another city, and it can give many of the benefits of onsite support without the associated costs in plane fare, etc. For the sake of security, however, the host software should only be started by the user.

But beware "social engineering". To avoid this, if you have a software update to upload, you call the customer and tell them to call you back. This way they know they are actually getting the update from you and you will know if someone is trying to mess with them.

The last company I worked at (which did industrial automation) did just this. PC Anywhere on the users machine and when they had a problem they called us, turned on PC Anywhere, and we connected and fixed the problem. Then they turned off PC Anywhere. Very secure, as they only allowed access when there was a problem and only after thay called us and we told them to do so. And much faster than getting on an airplane and flying from Utah to Maryland, or wherever they were.

Re:Remote control v. good (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#430689)

The email program was set up in about a minute; doing this by talk-through would have taken at least double that.

Wow, you saved a minute there! Woohooo! ;-)

But seriously, you are describing in-house support. In this case, the question of trust (which I would presume to be the most important) is just not an issue (hopefully, anyway ...). But this is quite different if a different company does the support and thus might get access to confident and perhaps very valuable data and documents.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

goldmeer (65554) | more than 13 years ago | (#430690)

"Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime," holds true here.

It seems clear that you have never worked for support in a corporate enviorment.
If you did, you would know that there is always a percentage of the users (If you have a sales department, the number is generally higher) that just simply do not pick up on fixing common problems. they will call time and again with the same set of problems. You patiently sit on the phone with them, and identify the problem, explain what caused the problem, explain how to fix the problem, and explain how to avoid the problem in the future. All the while hoping against hope that this time he gets it, knowing full well that he won't

Just my 2...

-Joe

Re:Remote administration (2)

RedX (71326) | more than 13 years ago | (#430691)

Perhaps you should re-read the topic before you embarrass yourself any further. AFAIK, your magical solution of using telnet and X will not serve up the current desktop that a client is sitting at, like PCAnywhere and VNC for Windows can. We're talking about remote administration of a client desktop, not remote administration of a server.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (2)

walnut (78312) | more than 13 years ago | (#430692)

And for those people, you fix it and get out of the way... But from my experience, there is a large number of people that just need it explained to them and they get it - much larger than the surly employees who work where you do. :)

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (3)

walnut (78312) | more than 13 years ago | (#430696)

And in a corporate environment, I would agree, this is a slightly better paradigm. However, quite commonly the MIS guys here have a tendency to *mess things up*, so I actually want them to seek me out before they change, fix, or do anything to my computer. As an engineer, I have had countless hours of work lost because MIS came in and did something unannounced (and either rebooted my machine without saving things, or saved things in a non-standard way - so as to make me chase them down for my files).

While I welcome MIS to scan my usage (a lot of ./ bursts), and examine my machine, I prefer to at least be told, questioned or otherwise asked first...

On top of this, we commonly put/pull project machines on and off the network. When we had to find MIS to configure network settings for us (something they wanted to do at one point) I tell you, it was a pain in the ass. I tell you, in this case, the fish thing really holds true.

Also, I'm sure the employer would not want it's support engineers wasting valuable time teaching users the ins and outs of the OS, not to mention the user wasting their time learning about their computer when they have more important work to be getting on with.

Having worked in both MIS through college and now working in engineering, I assure you, your employer wants the most productive employees possible. 15 minutes of explination on an OS issue which prevents this problem from ever occuring again, is well worth the money. Loosing 50 to 100 bucks for 15 minues so an engineer knows a better way to do something they will have to do either every day or with great frequency, saves an MIS call, MIS work, and engineer work.

Don't think of MIS as strictly a reactive entity, they need to be equally as proactive as possible.

Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (5)

walnut (78312) | more than 13 years ago | (#430697)

For one thing, this really depends on how you use remote administration. That statement from the Bible "Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime," holds true here. If every time your user has a problem, you fix it without explaining what caused it, you're going to potentially decrease the learning rate of your user base. In other words, users will commonly repeat the same mistakes, and you will commonly repeat the same fix.

On top of this, many users do not want a remote administration client stored on their machine - as many think of it as "their machine," and as long as they are paying for a service, chances are they are right. By allowing a 3rd party support technician to access their machine, they are opening themselves up to a wide variety of personal investigation (regardless of the morals, intent or actions of the support personel). Lets add to that, the common tendency for people to say 'mine!' and not want you to touch their toy (remember computers aren't tools for everyone - to some they are just toys) and whatnot.

Then lets ask some other questions about if you do attatch using a remote administrative client... IANAL but, what if they have porn as their background and the helpdesk person is offended by this? I'm pretty sure this fits the definition of sexual harrassment of the employee, and requesting the client to change their background constitutes a violation of their rights - unless you prevented them from having any in your EULA...which I have problems with too... My point being, that sometimes you can indiscriminantly wander a step too far into someone's life by using a remote administration tool, and everybody can be unhappy.

Last, what about the fact that some users want phone support and not you to do something... Hey, it may inconvenience you, but some people prefer it... Phone support is common in all industries (even power tools) so it is a familiar medium of communication for many people. If you toss them on the recieving end of a remote administrative procedure, they may be less than comfortable, and therefore, less likely to continue business with you. Remote administration is great for servers, but you had better *know* your user base, and know what they want.

I guess, the bottom line is: while, it may be helpful to some, not everybody will want it. You risk dumbing your user base, and creating an unnecessary tension between employees and clients. And most importantly, you risk the security of their machine for your convenience.

Perhaps this is a good solution in major cases, but I might suggest this as a last alternative as opposed to your standard care.

How about Citrix? (1)

TheHulk (80855) | more than 13 years ago | (#430698)

I work for a company of roughly 500 people and we only have one full-time help-desk person. With Citrix Metaframe [citrix.com] remote administration is done through "Shadowing" allowing this one person to efficiently manage everyone in the company. The bandwidth requirements are much smaller than X and easily workable with a 28.8 Kbps dial-up connection. Although there's not currently a server version for Linux, they do have clients which run on just about every platform known to mankind. Currently there are only server versions for Windows Terminal Server and Solaris. I don't mean to sound like a commercial but even a UNIX dork like myself was rather impressed by it's functionality.

Security (3)

markt4 (84886) | more than 13 years ago | (#430699)

Okay, for the sake of cheaper desktop support you decide to allow PCAnywhere (or VNC, or ReachOut, or RemoteAdministrator, or CarbonCopy, or SSH, or ...) through your firewall. Let's assume you're not totally stupid and so you only allow connections from the range of IP addresses assigned to your support company. Two questions then...

How secure is their network, and how do you know. Because if they have the excellent security practices of some of these companies that I have dealt with - like having Internet connections with no firewall at all - then your network just became as secure as their's. Nice. Or, let's say that they do this over dedicated lines rather than over the Internet. How many other companies do they serve and how do they protect your network from their others customers.

Second question: Who is sitting at that helpdesk PC at your service provider? Does your service provider have the same, or better, hiring practices as you do? How do you know that they aren't hiring Kevin Mitnick? (Don't get me wrong. Kevin has paid his debt to society and deserves the opportunity to find gainful employment, just like anybody else. Only, not at my company thank you.)

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

NTSwerver (92128) | more than 13 years ago | (#430701)

I appreciate your situation, the poor service from your MIS guys could, again, be down to money - ie. if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

My original post relates to the enviornments I'm used to, where the support specialists know their stuff and the end user will lose a *lot* more than 50-100 bucks for 15 minutes OS training.

----------------------------

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (3)

NTSwerver (92128) | more than 13 years ago | (#430702)

If every time your user has a problem, you fix it without explaining what caused it, you're going to potentially decrease the learning rate of your user base.

Depends on the enviornment. In a corporate enviornment, where the end user is an employee in some depatment other than IT, then I'm sure they won't want to know what the problem on their machine is (especially if it's an OS problem as opposed to an application usabilty question), they'll just want it fixed. Also, I'm sure the employer would not want it's support engineers wasting valuable time teaching users the ins and outs of the OS, not to mention the user wasting their time learning about their computer when they have more important work to be getting on with.

On top of this, many users do not want a remote administration client stored on their machine - as many think of it as "their machine,"

Again, in an office enviornment the machine is not 'theirs'.

what if they have porn as their background and the helpdesk person is offended by this?

Most companies I know of treat downloading and storing pr0n on workstations as a sackable offense.

Last, what about the fact that some users want phone support and not you to do something... Hey, it may inconvenience you, but some people prefer it..

Again, in corporate enviornments, this would come down to money. Fixing problems over the phone is *much* slower than remotely controlling the machine from your desk. The quicker the problems can be fixed = the more time the engineers have. The more time the engineers have = the less engineers the company has to employ. The less engineers the company has to employ = the more money the company makes.

----------------------------

The Unix way is old and proven (1)

aphor (99965) | more than 13 years ago | (#430704)

I don't understand what the big deal is. I'm a Unix Admin, and I can "become" a user any day of the week, and have had that capability for the ENTIRE ten years I've had root on ANY box.

First the person calls me. I answer some questions, trying to avoid having to type my own solution. If the user can't do it, they the user asks me to do "superuser" things (for example, "become" them and look at their files). This is OK because there is established accountability for things that happen here. Not so with an ASP. This is why Unix vendors have a hard time selling remote administration services to their clients. It is only done in a very restricted way, usually with (somewhat qualified) company personell supervising.

Re:What about Timbuktu? (1)

jmenezes (100986) | more than 13 years ago | (#430705)

Farallon made Timbuktu Pro for the Macs, and as of version 2.x, they also made it for windows, thereby enabling what i believe is for the first time cross-platform remote administration (this was back in early 90's)
Very handy tool, and one of the only ones available for a mac for a long time

Re:Remote administration (1)

Girf (101378) | more than 13 years ago | (#430706)

And I thought this was slashdot.. I do believe that all unices come with something called 'telnet', the good ones something called 'ssh'. Oh, you also wanted graphical access.. try something called 'X'.

One more thing: Please stop embarrassing us all and degrading the quality of Slashdot.

Remote administration via phone ? (1)

bockman (104837) | more than 13 years ago | (#430707)

Would it be feasible?

That is, the user's computer call the tech support system and establish a ppp link ... then it can chat with the operator, explain the problem, and the operator can ssh in user's computer, look itself and try to fix the problem.

It looks a nice idea to me ...

Incompetent Remote Administration (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 13 years ago | (#430709)

We have remote administration at my company, via Norton's Zen. The IT people can remotely install and upgrade the workstation software, which sounds like a pretty good idea, until the process screws up. The PCs here are not all configured the same way, because they were bought at different times, came from companies we acquired, or whatever. This can cause troubles when assumptions are made by IT about the software state of the machines being remotely "upgraded". Three times in the past six months, a remote installation of software has gone wrong in my group. There have also been about the same number of successful installs. We don't know for sure, because this happens without our knowledge or permission. Sometimes, the upgrade hoses the system and has to be backed out. Sometimes, it fails to complete, leaving the system non-functional. Sometimes, the new software breaks another piece of software installed for a particular user (like AutoCad or some other special-use software that corporate doesn't support...or even know about). In a continuing effort to cut costs, we have "outsourced" the IT support functions, which seems to mean that the support people do their best, but they probably haven't been here that long, and probably won't be here long enough to "learn the ropes". I have recently de-installed the Novell software on my workstation and am now supporting it myself. At least I know what gets done to it and who to blame.

Re:Remote administration (2)

beefness (112934) | more than 13 years ago | (#430713)

Obviously You've never heard of Citrix Metaframe (www.citrix.com [citrix.com] ) for Unix. On Windows, Citrix Metaframe sits on top of NT Terminal Server, or Windows2000 Server and basicly allows for the deployment of any application, or whole user desktop.

Metaframe for Unix (avalable for Linux, HP UX, Solaris, IBM AIX) does exactly the same thing, but with the Unix system, allowing deployment of Unix Applications and desktops to users. It even lets you do it cross platform using Citrix's Idependant Computer Architecture, so I can access xemacs from a palmtop running windows CE, or I can run MS Word on my linux box, totally seemlessly, I can even access the local drives of my client machine, if I wish (or rather if I as administrator let myself!!).

An administrator can shadow a users desktop, or individual application, this means that support is easy, because the user can see what your doing with the mouse, I have demonstrated procedures to users using a phone call and a shadow session at other offices... but I could do it all over the world if I wanted to, I can even pick up the shadow session somewhere else other than the server, from another client device... So I could support a user in office B, who is logged into an Application server in Office a, while I am sat on the train using my palmtop and a GSM mobile phone.

The possibilities are endless, it's complete freedom of movement, it even makes outsourcing of Helpdesk staff easier when we're short staffed.

This is the future, this is what we'll all be doing in about 2 years.

Remote Admin on 700+ user WAN (3)

MadMorf (118601) | more than 13 years ago | (#430714)

At a law firm I worked for a few years ago, we used PCAnywhere for Remote Admin on our Win95 desktops. Our offices were scattered along the east coast and PCAnywhere made helping anyone on our WAN a piece of cake. Others have mentioned that you should "Teach a man to fish" and I agree. Remote Admin does not stand in the way of that goal. On the contrary, it is a tool to facilitate training. You can watch what the user is doing and then correct them from thousands of miles away. Not to mention that using Remote Admin you can do a lot of work that would otherwise require travel. So, you can save on training and travel, 2 of the most expensive things in the IT budget.

Can't do 100% remote (2)

demaria (122790) | more than 13 years ago | (#430715)

Don't throw out the entire phone desk.

What happens when
(A) The remote site's WAN connection is down.
(B) The PC's networking is broken (for whatever reasons).
(C) The OS won't boot.

You'll have to have good phone people for these.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

jgarry (126205) | more than 13 years ago | (#430718)

Sell a man a fish you get a dollar. Sell him a cert program you get thousands.

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

jgarry (126205) | more than 13 years ago | (#430719)

Phone support and remote admin are two different things. They should both be done, adapted to each situation.

For example, when the help desk sees my workstation, they go "whoah!" - I've got a bunch of db admin tools and mucho obscure stuff. Every so often, management decrees changes to everyones work station, and mine inevitably gets screwed up. SMS is the worst.

Now we are getting a big contract for EDS [eds.com] to replace all help desk and PC support. Many of us are hunkering down and expecting to avoid calling them as much as possible. Pretty counter-productive.

And imagine if a bunch of us get desktop Linux!

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (3)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#430720)

"If every time your user has a problem, you fix it without explaining what caused it, you're going to potentially decrease the learning rate of your user base. In other words, users will commonly repeat the same mistakes, and you will commonly repeat the same fix. "

Sometimes a customer pays you for a service, and just wants it working. Dont want to learn, dont want anything other than a working system. By having the ability to pcAnywhere/Excellanet into a box and up/download databases, log files etc, you can do it all remotely - no need to get the next plane/train 600 miles. No downsides. None whatsoever.

Re:Remote control v. good (1)

sracer9 (126645) | more than 13 years ago | (#430721)

remote administration is absolutely brilliant.

I agree wholeheartedly. We have a network constisting of mostly macs and use Network Assistant to remotely administer them. It's absolutely the way to go. Now when somebody calls us and says "the thingy isn't working right today." we can remotely observe/control to find out what "thingy" it is. Great for pointing out user errors and proper procedure.
Also works very well for setting up SETI@home processes at the end of the day!

VNC (1)

hydrino (131216) | more than 13 years ago | (#430722)

I a big VNC supporter. VNC helps our company do complex configurations of software over the Internet. This saves on huge phone bills for support as well as support engineers time. If the network is not working we always have dialup( painful). For an added boost try the tight encoder.

http://freshmeat.net/projects/vnc-tight/

When done right, it makes your life SO easy. (3)

testy (138681) | more than 13 years ago | (#430725)

With proper implementation, you may never have to be face-to-face with a user again. At my company, we had 1500+ users scattered around town (outgrew our offices), and simply didn't have the time for techs to drive around and fix stuff. So when the helpdesk sent us an issue, we would call the user, make them save their work, then (and this is the key) make them watch as we remotely fixed the problem. That way, they'll learn the proper way to do things, and won't have to call back the next time. Eventually, the helpdesk started using the app, and we had enough free time to work on important things, like upgrading network infrastructure and performing Y2K audits (did I mention this was a couple of years ago?).


As to the trust issue, many remote admin tools (Remotely Possible comes to mind) have a VCR-type function that allows you to record your terminal sessions. Initially, we only recorded sessions with "problem users," but the cost savings we realized allowed us to build a file server to store all of our sessions.


Finally, if users don't want the software on their system, well, tough. Remotely Possible (now called Control IT [ca.com] ) allows you to push the software onto the client's box without the user's knowledge, and do so every time they log onto the network, in case the user somehow discovers and deletes it. This is useful with the aforementioned "problem users."


Give remote admin a try, but don't use it as an excuse to abandon phone support. The two, used together, make an excellent "teach a man to fish" tool, and will save your company a fortune in man-hours and support costs.

Users vs Devices (3)

Prof_Dagoski (142697) | more than 13 years ago | (#430727)

The question of benefits in remote administration depends on what you want to manage. Remote administration is greate for taking care of devices. I haven't done too much of this aside from admin of internetworking devices through SNMP, but even that can be very powerful. Managing devices directly does indeed streamline the troubleshooting process as well as speed up maintenance and upgrading, but I doubt it can replace the phone support line. So many calls a help desk gets from a user are not the 'my computer is broken' calls, but rather the 'how do I do this' variety. Even so, I figure remote admin capablities can shorten the time to resolve problems, making the user and the help desk staff happier. That said, there are limits to what remote admin can fix. Remote administration cannot address faulty user behavior and the problems that arise from such. It can be argued that nothing can help that, but I'm not that pessimistic. Remote administration can deal with machines, but you still need people to admin users.

Cost Effective Solution - Try this (1)

tubs (143128) | more than 13 years ago | (#430728)

If you are after a cost effective solution then try this site

http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/ [att.com]

Although we have a closed network, so some security issues are hmmm, ignored, its a damn useful bit of kit.

Re:Remote administration is feature in Windows XP (1)

31: (144084) | more than 13 years ago | (#430729)

so... what was your username again?

Remote admin client? Oh no, I can assure you there's no remote admin client on your machine.

/sound of scream from down the hallway

---
I'm not ashamed. It's the computer age, nerds are in.
They're still in, aren't they?

Re:What if.. (1)

CrazyJoel (146417) | more than 13 years ago | (#430730)

You can remotely control trained monkeys to push that darn enter key.

What if.. (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 13 years ago | (#430731)

The phone line/CAT5 is kicked out of the jack?

How do you remotely administer that?

How do you remotely administer a powered down monitor?

How do you flirt with a hot admin exec remotely?


---

Re:Remote administration (2)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 13 years ago | (#430733)

VNC [att.com]
allows you to do this. It's similar to PCAnywhere but is platform-independent.

Re:Remote administration (1)

mungewell (149275) | more than 13 years ago | (#430735)

I think you will find that PC Anywhere (version 2) runs quite happily under Wine..... Simon W.

Re:Security problems (2)

danpbrowning (149453) | more than 13 years ago | (#430736)

...every single PC has to be addressable to internet...

Nope. I use VNC a lot to do remote support, and you can just punch a few holes (read: ports 21000-21050) in the firewall and NAT them through.

The other part is: call the user and say, 'click here to start the remote admin program' so i can get in first. It's a little extra protection that way.

Remote controls a good thing (2)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#430739)

We've been using remote control in the shop I work, via Novell ZenWorks. It's great for taking care of "the little things", like missing Word toolbars or simple file-relocaton questions. Saves us techs a lot of unecessary leg work. Bigger problems like non-booting OS or what not obivously still take a visit, but really it's the little things that are the most time-consuming overall.

The best thing I've found about it is the ability to see what the user sees. Instead of trying to decipher what "My Word is screwed up" means, I can just log in and find out for myself. That in itself probably cuts the time for a remote control in half over what a similar phone call would take.

The only disadvantage so far is that the version we're using doesn't support remote rebooting. Apparently that's a "Real Soon Now" feature, but we'll see. And user resistance isn't as bad as you might think: most users find it "cool" to see their computer fixing itself with a mind of it's own.

Re:Trialing (1)

srhuston (161786) | more than 13 years ago | (#430740)

Ahh yes... All nouns can be verbed. Example: "All nouns can be verbed."

Gotta love the Dictionary [tuxedo.org] .

Windows XP (1)

dirtmerchant (162306) | more than 13 years ago | (#430741)

This is one of the big new features of Windows XP that Microsoft is touting. Says CNET's Review, "A new option called Interactive Support lives at the top of all help and support services screens. Follow this link to open Remote Assistance, a peer-to-peer tool that lets you email other Whistler users and lets them, in turn, take over your system and show you exactly what they'd do. This is great if you can't find a feature or have a hard time explaining the problem you're having. The tool is designed to work with Microsoft or hardware vendor tech support but can also help experienced friends or family members solve newbies' PC problems." Sounds like yet another built in "feature" to add to a script kiddie toolbox.

Terminal Services (1)

PatJensen (170806) | more than 13 years ago | (#430742)

Windows 2000 has a built-in remote access feature using Terminal Services. It's on the same CD as Server and you just need to use Add/Remove Programs to install it. It will prompt you whether you want multi-user capability or remote administration mode. Select remote administration mode and you can use the Microsoft RDP Terminal Services client to connect and manage your applications and services.

As far as supporting applications go on individual machines there are many infrastructure components you can use. You have Microsoft SMS, Tivoli, Novell ZEN, Intel LanDesk and more. These packages can inventory, track, deploy software and allow you to remote control/reboot/debug most issues.

-Pat

Re:Works the other way around aswell (2)

PatJensen (170806) | more than 13 years ago | (#430743)

I've been in a situation like this, and the solution will work well until your Project Manager or Contractors decide to replace core components, not notify staff and then reboot your server during peak hours.

In times like that you need a remote administration SNMP-manageable handgun.

-Pat

The issue is not trust - phone is better because (1)

janimal (172428) | more than 13 years ago | (#430744)

After a support call, the customer wants to know how the problem was fixed, so (s)he can do it on their own next time. With remote admin, the customer remains oblivious to the problem even if you say what was done. They learn by doing.

There is a better solution that combines the technologies. The tech person should see what is being done, but not control it. The procedure should be walking the customer through somethig with better knowledge of what (s)he is seeing in fronto of their face.

Telephone-only support is definitely crippled. Remote admin is far worse, because it allows for abuses, which are much more detrimental to any company than an extra hour spent to get things right.

Janimal

It can pay, but evaluate the products first (2)

nishikigoi (172678) | more than 13 years ago | (#430745)

I've been involved in a project like this for my employer. We have over 100000 PCs in two thousand or so buildings all over the UK. It's estimated that it costs in excess of 100 UK Pounds for each site visit, so every remote fix saves a lot of money. Our helpdesk operators found that they could sort out the vast majority of problems with remote control.

The Downside though was that we managed to buy a product that just couldn't scale to the size of our business and still work reliably, so after two years and several million pounds we're having to rip it out and go with a new product.

If you're evaluating a product, ask to be put in touch with users who have similar sized enterprises to your own and find out from them what problems they've had. I'd be loth to name the product we failed with publicly (British libel law works well to protect big business against even genuine criticism) but it's one I wouldn't touch ever again. Let's just say it's produced by a subsidiary of a US company that might be in some way related to HAL.

Another benefit (1)

urbanjunkie (173409) | more than 13 years ago | (#430746)

You forgot to mention easier installation of trojan de jour by disgruntled helpdesk employee.

Re:Remote administration (1)

gerddie (173963) | more than 13 years ago | (#430747)

Administration is not the problem, since you need no GUI for UNIX-administration. In fact UNIX is better prepared for remote administration, since telnet (and now ssh) are enough to configure the host.
But with support you are right. One needs a software to see, what the other person sees on his/her screen. And sometimes even this is not enough: A woman called us, she always has this blue screen. We told her to turn off the computer and on again. But she said, the blue screen is still there. She answered very quickly, so we asked: "How do you turn off the computer?" - turned out she only switched off the monitor.- So you see, standing beside her would not have raised any question.
Back to your issue: I don't know if there is any software to take over a X session over the network. Anyone other?

Re:Not quite (1)

devildog-kryliss (174532) | more than 13 years ago | (#430748)

Actually what you could do in a situation like this is run VNC from work and then use it at home from your browser. http://127.0.0.1:5801 and you will pull up that same desktop in your browser. Works pretty slick.

Works the other way around aswell (1)

boaworm (180781) | more than 13 years ago | (#430752)

Remote administration works the other way around as well. Say that a company has some development groups, each working on a dev server. As soon as the work group needs to access the machine to register a component (dll) they have to run all the way down to the basement and ask admin staff

Instead, by letting the dev servers be remotely controlled by the project leader from his own workstation, both users and admins save time.

It works good, and saves time.

Re:Can't do 100% remote (1)

dynoman7 (188589) | more than 13 years ago | (#430756)

I agree. Another problem is the fact that some customers just don't trust their contractors. I've worked on several government jobs where the only help interface to the customer is the phone. By design, customers like to have control of their systems. I don't mind either...sure, it may take a little longer to walk someone thru the diagnosis, but, in the long run, you find and fix the problem the right way using an agreed upon process (CM). Again, customers like control.

-dynoman7

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

RatFink100 (189508) | more than 13 years ago | (#430757)

That statement from the Bible "Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime," holds true here

I think you'll find that's just a popular saying not a Bible verse

What about Timbuktu? (2)

glebite (206150) | more than 13 years ago | (#430764)

We used to use these on the Macs to do work at our desk from the lab, or vice-versa.

I can't recall who made it, but it was more than handy to do similar operations as remote administration, as well as complete control over the remote machine.

Re:Remote control v. good (1)

Mr. Jackson (207564) | more than 13 years ago | (#430766)

I must be missing something. Aren't most of our computer problems these days network related How are you going to fix my network problem over the network?

Remote is the way to do it (1)

smnolde (209197) | more than 13 years ago | (#430767)

The area of the comany in which I work does 24-hr emergency support for our customers. We've had remote admin tools available for well over five years.

Now, we're using more and more of VNC for remote admin and it's been a blessing. There are so many times I've had to explain to a dumb-ass-brick-head how to configure the same software he's there to support.

We also use the same customer's site to potential customers as an example of our remote admin and diagnostic utilities.

Remote Administration vs. Phone Support? (1)

kilroy7 (212055) | more than 13 years ago | (#430769)

I use a combination of VNC and ICQ in my organization. With 6 different sites to admin, VNC has allowed me to work on any machine in the organization from one location. Of course, some problems just cannot be solved by remote administration....but when they can be taken care of by connecting and taking remote control of the workstation, it saves a lot of leg work.

My euro0.02 worth (1)

Reedi (218043) | more than 13 years ago | (#430772)

We installed this sort of thing in a previous job for a very large UK law firm (no names, no non-disclusure suit) with the idea that it would save money and I suppose in a way it did.
We had to spend a long time injecting large amounts of clue (sometimes forcibly and with the use of language which was "inapropriate in a professional environment") into the heads of the helpdesk staff though and not a few rantmails to the manglement about the pitiable state of the staff they were hiring to work the phones.

(One guy was hired on the basis of his 3 years experience on a helpdesk - As it turns out when we sysadmins questioned why this guy could barely type never mind fix a user's mailbox we found out that the helpdesk had been for users of cash registers...)

What we found after a while was that although the helpdesk staff were improving, the lusers were not. In fact they were (as if it was possible) getting worse.

We were stumped as to what to do to get out of this downward spiral. The solution? Lie to the lusers and tell them that remote control is down for the day and talking them through it is the only way. They soon tired of this and began to remember passwords etc.

One problem which may rear its ugly head especially if you are fixing external client's PCs which I have come across. What do you do if as I did I found an image of what I judged to be a minor in a state of undress?
I deliberated over this for a few seconds then called in my colleague who agreed on the age estimate. From then on it took whole milliseconds for my hand to reach out for the phone and the boys in blue.

This was internal so I had no qualms but it might place your company in an interesting legal position if it was an outsider.

Ian

PS. The whole thing was hushed up and he left the firm.
No one ever asked me to be a witness in a court case against him so I guess he got away with it.

Not quite (1)

infiniti99 (219973) | more than 13 years ago | (#430774)

This doesn't "take over the X session". Rather, it starts a new one. I've also found this to be a problem with a command shell as well. There is no way to transfer it.

I believe the Windows version of VNC serves up the current desktop because that's the only way it can work on that platform. The Unix version actually fires up a completely independant desktop into the background which is very powerful but it also means there is no way to serve up your current session. There have been many times where I had something that was running (like a download) and I wanted to be able to resume using the app/desktop when I get home. No chance on Linux..

Right now if you want to be able to resume your desktop or shell elsewhere, you have to think in advance by starting up VNC or "screen" beforehand. There has got to be a better way. Sure everyone could use VNC locally all the time (just in case we might leave the computer) but isn't that a bit silly? Also insanely slow. As crazy as it sounds, there should be a way to make Xvnc operate like the Windows server.

-Justin

Re:Not quite ?! wrong ;-) (1)

infiniti99 (219973) | more than 13 years ago | (#430775)

Wow. Exactly what I was looking for. This could come in handy.

I just thought of another problem though. When serving your current session, doesn't that leave you wide open at the local machine?

There ought to be a way for the server to blank the local screen upon remote login (so fire up server, then start xlock and go home). Or perhaps a way for the rfb server to completely take over the entire X session and disconnect the local X server. So the whole session would go into the background and kdm would pop back up or what have you.

Cool that this comes with source.. perhaps I will have to play around.

Thanks!
-Justin

There's one point where Internet support will fail (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#430776)

For instance, ISP's can't rely on Internet-based support; what if there's a customer who can't connect? What good is Internet support in that case?

who needs remote control? (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 13 years ago | (#430777)

If you're on the same NT domain as the user, and you are an administrator, you can just edit his registry directly. I used to fix things all the time by doing that. No need for any special remote-control services that may or may not be available.

Of course this was in a company that could afford its own tech support staff. No company would ever give this kind of access to some 3rd-party outfit. At least I hope not.
---

Re:Incompetent Remote Administration (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 13 years ago | (#430778)

The PCs here are not all configured the same way, because they were bought at different times, came from companies we acquired, or whatever. This can cause troubles when assumptions are made by IT about the software state of the machines being remotely "upgraded". Three times in the past six months, a remote installation of software has gone wrong in my group. There have also been about the same number of successful installs.

I have seen this problem myself. I think the issue is that people fail to realize that

Remote Administration != Administration
en masse

at least not in the kind of environment you are talking about.


---

Re:Can't do 100% remote (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 13 years ago | (#430779)

What happens when
(A) The remote site's WAN connection is down.
(B) The PC's networking is broken (for whatever reasons).
(C) The OS won't boot.

You'll have to have good phone people for these.

All of the above will typically require a technician to actually physically go to the customer's site.. wow, what a concept!

Friendly and well-trained helpdesk won't do you any good if the guy who actually comes out to go monkey around with the customer's hardware is incompetent.
---

Re:Remote administration (1)

ChungoNZ (224781) | more than 13 years ago | (#430780)

VNC piped of SSH - duh!!!!

Remote Admin in Automation (1)

elbarsal (232181) | more than 13 years ago | (#430781)

Having dealt with more than one customer site where remote access to PC's would (or has) simplified matters, I have to say that it is a good idea.

The key is that I work for an automation contractor, and systems we deploy do not belong to particular users; the systems belong to the process or line they control. As such, it is essential that we correct any issues promptly, which is more easily done over VPN or dial-up line, rather than taking a drive or a flight.

Additionally, the users we deal with are responsible only for the workings of their process or line, not for the condition of the PC's they sometimes use.

A co-worker took a trip last week (hour and a half drive, each way) only to reboot a PC. This also speaks of the capabilities of the customer.

Ed

Around here... (1)

Xibby (232218) | more than 13 years ago | (#430782)

Where I work I have a couple extra accounts in AD for support people for some of our custom software. Whenever I need to show them what's going wrong, I have them login via Citrix and shadow their session. Works rather well. When their done, the AD account is disabled. TO ensure they use the correct settings (128bit SSL encryption) I have the java client installed as an applet. Overall pretty slick. (Keep everything properly firewalled...)

This [compaq.com] soultion from Compaq looks interesting, but I don't see enough advantages to make it useful for UNIX. For NT though...

One Solution, Many Platforms (1)

QuonsetTheHut (234807) | more than 13 years ago | (#430784)

I've found VNC pretty helpful. Drive NT/win2k from Linux. Drive win98 from a palm pilot. Drive Linux from a web browser. Can't remember if it does MAC yet or not? I've tried M$ Net Meeting, but it's a pain to install, and at least one reboot involved if you want to allow remote operation (ugh!) AND... it does Xwindows!

It's a little slower than some solutions, but it does the most on the most platforms. I give it 2 thumbs up!

Remote Administration (1)

big_groo (237634) | more than 13 years ago | (#430785)

In our organization, we use Tivoli - an IBM product. I'm one of the desktop plebes, so if it can't be resolved remotely, it's my job to run around and fix it. With Tivoli (I don't know about the other programs) you can control Unix, NT, 95 you name the clients. We mostly use Tivoli for remote updates of software (MUCH easier than sending a tech to each of the 30,000 workstations we have). If a bug is found in the software, quarterly (sometimes more) updates are performed on all the ws's. The only people in our organization that have access to remote control are the Tivoli group (of course) and the CSD. The CSD will use it on occasion - if the (l)user doesn't understand what they're being told to do. We also use Tivoli for asset management. When you've got 30,000 leased desktops/laptops, it's nice to have a current list of serial numbers, equipment reference numbers etc. on hand.

For the most part, this works well, except when you're having network issues. Lose a switch? What then? Router implodes? Oops. "Click here...now do this..."

remote admin is popular, and an old topic : unix. (1)

rigor6969 (240549) | more than 13 years ago | (#430790)

I mean really, with unix, remote admin'ing has been a standard for ages. If the security is tight, SSH/VPN/firewall/dialup whatever, its not a security point. Some remote admin, i do via ssh, some i have to go through a secure dialup. Doesn't really matter, as long as the proper security is installed, correctly from the beginning. It saves me time, the customer time, and the bottom end result is less time wasted, hence less $$ fees for the end user.

remote administration apps (1)

abcbooze (245097) | more than 13 years ago | (#430791)

also known as TROJANS! Back Orrifice anyone?

Don't rely too much on remote administration (1)

Kj0n (245572) | more than 13 years ago | (#430792)

I think remote administration is the ideal way of configuring computers on the network, but it can be dangerous to trust it too much. When there are serious problems that cause the remote administration tools to fail, you should be able to fall back on phone support or be able to go there yourself and fix it.

If this is impossible (for instance, when the server is located in another country), be sure that you have experienced people there who can assist you.

Phone support with Remote Admin works very well (1)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 13 years ago | (#430793)

I've found that having a PCAnywhere session (or shadowed Citrix session) open while talking to someone on the phone is very effective. The only problem is when people start pointing at the screen with their fingers (which they might do with voice only anyways) hehe

..... (1)

gr8fulnded (254977) | more than 13 years ago | (#430794)

remotebox# setenv DISPLAY mybox:0.0
remotebox# netscape

Problem solved.

(ok, so its been awhile since I used the DISPLAY variable. My syntax might be a little off).

--Dave

One major drawback (3)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 13 years ago | (#430796)

If the tech screws something up he/she's responsible, while normally you can still blame the customer for having done something wrong, or something along the lines of:" Oh, in that case your system was unstable already"...

Re:Incompetent Remote Administration (1)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 13 years ago | (#430799)

I think that you mean Novell's Zen Works. As near as I can tell, Norton/Symantec does not have a remote admin product unless you count PCAnywhere.

Zen Works really isn't that great to begin with.

Large scale remote admin (3)

Anml4ixoye (264762) | more than 13 years ago | (#430801)

I work for a large county government organization. We have over 10,000 employees, most of which with one or two computers. We also staff a 6 member helpdesk at a remote location that is tied to us using fiber. We run a program similar to PCAnywhere but that is extremely secure, fast, and runs seemlessly in the background. In fact, you would never know it was on your machine until someone admins it.

I think that this is probably one of the features that keeps us at the level that we are. While we give basic computer classes to our employees, trying to solve a problem using just the phone can be both frustrating and time-consuming. And with us having offices all over the county (and with the county spreading some 300 square miles or more) this is just phoenomenal.

Of course, this is run through our own organization, and not through an ASP. But the same idealogy can be used for that as well. Compare the initial costs of the software and setup to the costs of teaching the employees the skills to do basic troubleshooting and the time wasted by Net Admin having to talk them though the process, etc. If a basic service call with phone support takes 45 minutes, but with Remote Admin it is cut down to 7 minutes, that is a significant reduction in cost. Factor in the salaries of both the employee being helped (say $14.00 per hour) and the help desk personnel (Hmm, how do you convert peanuts to dollars again?) and you can generate a pretty report to show management. All before lunch. Good luck!

Re:VNC (1)

wh1td0g (305081) | more than 13 years ago | (#430804)

yes, vnc is 'da shit'. its free and much more lightweight than pcanywhere and is multiplatform. on a windows 9x intranet it hardly makes no sense not to install vnc and set it to run as a service so remote administration is possible. and with an ssh server available, you can even do remote admin over the internet all nice and encrypted.

Needed to be pointed out (1)

ooze (307871) | more than 13 years ago | (#430805)

Although this should be obvious. But remote administration is to do fix those screwed up file systems without needing to say you clients how stupid they were. You fix it, and send them a mail of success with the note, not to do this again, and all are happy.

Re:Remote administration (1)

snake_dad (311844) | more than 13 years ago | (#430806)

PCAnywhere might restrict you to using Windows or Apple, remote adminstration does not. Unix has remote adminstration built-in: telnet, ssh, etc. I have done support for a number of clients using a software package running on unix. Most of the support was done while talking to the client on the phone, and at the same time working remotely on his/her machine. IMHO the combination of phone and remote administration gives you the best chance to keep the customer happy, by being able to quickly assess and resolve any problem that is not hardware related.

Remote administration (1)

Yoshi Have Big Tail (312184) | more than 13 years ago | (#430807)

The problem with this is that remote administration restricts you to using Windows or Apple (because PCAnywhere isn't available for Unix) - and you might prefer a 'free' solution (although I guess this demonstrates the importance of TCO - it's not the initial purchase price that counts, it's the total cost of ownership).

Re:First Jew (1)

feldsteins (313201) | more than 13 years ago | (#430808)

Get professional help before it's too late.
--

Re:Gee, let me think... BAD IDEA. (1)

kkrause (316375) | more than 13 years ago | (#430809)

Bible statement??? You'll have a hard time finding it in the Biblie...I believe it's a Chinese proverb.
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