Faster, smaller, more open and ever-more mobile…just a few of the things we demand from our technology these days. With the exponential rates at which new software and hardware emerges and evolves, just keeping up with the pace of developments can be enough of a task without trying to stay one step ahead!
Mobile is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing areas, as the pervasive use of smart-phones, tablets, iPads et al will attest. One ancillary effect of this has been the new-found ability to perform complex IT admin tasks remotely, where once the only solution would have been a mad scramble to the office to fix a problem. Server management is one such task that has been freed from the bondage of location and there’s a wealth of ways now that you can monitor, maintain or fix servers without having to be in attendance or even in the same country.
One of the main barriers to remote server management has, until recently, been the requirement of a static IP by a lot of servers (WINS, DNS, DHCP servers all need a static IP assigned to them). As with other areas of computing though, the ubiquitous Cloud is opening up infinite new possibilities and service providers such as LogMeIn and remote access protocols such as SSH are providing secure routes to remotely access your servers safely.
Windows 7 improved on previous versions of Windows in many ways, not least by providing the option to download and run Remote Server Administration tools or, for advanced function and control, Microsoft’s Server Management and Automation is a great utility. Similarly, Mac has a Remote Administration tool bundled into the Remote Desktop package, which allows OS-X users the same freedom to ‘tinker from a distance’ whilst also (as Mac invariably seeks to do) offering the user-friendly Automator function, which makes scheduling server adjustments and changes easier than ever. For the sake of parity, it should be pointed out that Windows Server 12 has similar automation options and both are a great asset for minimising disruption and hassle.
Possibly the most useful advance to systems administrators seeking new and improved connectivity to their servers has been the slew of apps developed for Android, Windows and iOS smart-phones. These offer unprecedented convenience and mobility as the smart-phone continues to grow in flexibility as a genuine conduit to the office and, indeed, to remote system administration. Apps such as ServerUp, Mobile Server Stats and iSSH - SSH / VNC Console (via iTunes) are but a few of the numerous smart-phone centric utilities available that now offer a cheap but invaluable way of doing everything from running basic ping tests to initiating TCP port connection tests and a plethora of diagnostic and admin tasks. With the rise of the Cloud and the burgeoning functionality of the smart-phone, you can travel the globe safe in the knowledge that managing your server is but a mere click away…and that kind of peace of mind is worth its weight in gold.