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Simplify system management with remote reboot

Companies with remote networks can benefit from tools that control and prevent geographicaly dispersed system crashes.

In our ever-increasingly networked world, more and more information and commerce transactions are pushed further and further toward the customer. This is seen throughout many industries and specific applications, including self-service airport check-ins, ski ticket purchase kiosks, and self-checkout kiosks at the supermarket and retail stores.

All of these alternatives that put goods, information and services closer to the consumer allow merchants to reach customers in a diverse set of environments. They also give the consumers convenience of ready access to the goods and services they need without long lines and salespeople.

As transaction-based events become more decentralized, it becomes more and more important to find an economical means of monitoring, managing and troubleshooting these geographically distributed interaction points. Both the transaction devices themselves (kiosks, ATM machines, and interactive information displays) and the communications systems that link them together (cable modems, routers, and Wi-Fi access points) are subject to occasional system failures. These failures are inevitable in any system running any type of operating system on any communications platform. Thus, companies with remote networks are searching for a means to control and prevent these failures that are specific to system crashes.

Reboot is the answer

There are many methods available for systems administrators to manage geographically dispersed systems, which range from utilizing external technicians to deploying remote management tools, specifically remote reboot devices. In many cases, trouble resolution comes down to a simple reboot. This is sometimes considered the first or last step in troubleshooting and is usually a sure-fix to the problem. However, geographically dispersed networks make a simple reboot a much more complex matter. For those companies that utilize external technicians, dispatching them to their sites can be costly for times when rebooting the system is the solution.

Dispatching technicians also takes time, and time is money, both in salaries and lost revenues due to downtime. Increased security measures for systems located in facilities such as airports, banks, and government agencies lengthen the time it takes to put a technician on site. Systems in difficult to reach locations such as towers or co-location facilities can also delay the arrival of on-site help. And, with premium time for weekends and holidays, these costs can greatly cut into the profitability of these systems.

Choose the best tool

Fortunately, manufacturers are developing simple and extremely cost-effective solutions for remote management that allow administrators to reboot when system crashes occur. These management tools take the high costs and time constraints out of this mundane but critical management task. Now, the problem lies rather in choosing the tool that offers the best features for the management task.

Because convenience is an important factor for most, perhaps the best solutions on the market offer remote power control via the network and automatic detection of failures. The crashed system can then be accessed and rebooted via the network using an IP address on any Internet browser. Other devices allow for remote reboot control over phone lines, which can be as convenient as controlling remote systems through your cell phone.

The ability to monitor both the server system and the communications connectivity to the outside world is a significant feature in remote reboot tools. Some reboot devices monitor the system and then provide automatic reboot upon failure. Others work with popular server management software and can be commanded when a failure is detected. These devices provide an integrated solution that will detect and solve a large variety of system crashes, thus maintaining uptime of the remote systems.

Remote reboot devices cannot solve all problems for crashed systems, but they do provide an easy and cost-effective means to provide both the "first line of defense" and "when all else fails…" strategies for recovering remote devices. Immediately dispatching a technician is costly, but ensures that if equipment or components need replacing, that can be done on the spot. It is extremely important for businesses in the remote services industry to have dependable remote management tools and external technicians in their arsenal at all times. This allows companies with remote terminal businesses to continue providing cutting-edge services to their customers. And, as these services expand, so will remote management technology.

About the author:
David Weiss has over 19 years experience in product management, business development, sales and marketing, and is an expert in the remote site management technology industry. Today, David serves as the president of Dataprobe, a remote site management and monitoring solutions provider. David started his career under the direction of his father, Sy Weiss, the former president and founder of Dataprobe. David provided technical support to the engineering and drafting departments before succeeding his father as the company's president. David holds a BA in Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Buffalo.

This was last published in July 2004

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