Eran Kessel, vice president of marketing & products for Minicom (, says:

Let’s say you’ve decided to adopt a Remote Access Management solution. What do you need to know? How do you compare systems? Here are four questions to ask your vendor about their Remote Access Management system.

1. Does it have a centralized web-based dashboard?
For security and efficiency, the Remote Access Management system should centralize access to servers and devices in a single web-based dashboard, with a simple interface that enables one-click access to servers and devices, and restricts access to task-appropriate servers and tools.

2. Is it device and manufacturer agnostic
In today’s technology market, change is constant. To protect your investment, don’t choose a Remote Access Management solution that restricts your future equipment choices. You may have standardized on one vendor’s servers, but you don’t want to be locked out, should a better server come on the market. Choose a system based on open standards, with the capability to monitor and control all major vendors’ equipment.

3. Does it support in-band, out-of-band and Service Processor access
Your IT staff may use nothing but RDP today, but as you’ve read, there are major advantages to out-of-band access. Be sure that the system you choose will allow your technical capabilities to grow, by allowing the monitoring and control of out-of-band devices, Service Processors, and whatever new devices may appear in the future.

For a brief background on these types of access:

• In-band access (RDP, VNC, SSH, Telnet) allows two-way communication to remote computers, to view the remote desktop or to share data. These tools are common and low-cost, but they’re only useful if the server’s operating system is still working (the computer hasn’t completely crashed)
• Out-of-band access communicates via hardware devices, such as KVM switches (which control multiple computers from a single desktop); console servers (which provide remote serial access to networking equipment; and PDUs (power distribution units)
• Service Processor access talks to the server’s internal management processes, e.g. iLO from HP, DRAC from Dell, RSA from IBM, and IPMI from Intel.

4. Does it accommodate your existing equipment, or will you need a “forklift upgrade”?
Some Remote Access Management systems require you to replace your older gear—servers, PDUs, KVMs and/or console servers—or to purchase costly licenses in order to use the tools you already have in place. Not only is this large-scale replacement costly and wasteful, it can cause massive disruption to a company’s daily activities—for example, replacing PDUs could require a complete server shutdown, and likely a total interruption of business.

And it’s not necessary. Solutions are available that accommodate existing equipment and tools. While newer tools may add functionality, they can be brought online in phases, without the costs and disruption of wholesale replacement.

When comparing Remote Access Management solutions, compare the complete costs of the deployment. The advantages are clear: you can maximize your security, increase operational efficiency and save on energy. And with proper planning a selection, you can minimize the complications and costs of the deployment, and ensure that the benefits of Remote Access Management will continue into the future.