– Eran Kessel vice president of marketing & products at Minicom (www.minicom.com), says:
The benefits of remote server access
Years ago, the idea of operating and maintaining data centers remotely, or with “lights out” in the server room, seemed radical. Now it’s standard procedure. Why? Because of three compelling advantages:
1. Increased data security—with remote access, the data center can be secured from unwanted visitors.
2. Improved operational efficiency—with remote access, your IT staff can fix problems from their computer screen—they don’t have to be onsite. Remote access means doing more with less.
3. Better cooling/power efficiency—one of the major causes of cooling inefficiency is service staff who open doors and wander around. With remote access, server rooms are sealed tight.
Remote Access Management: maximizing the benefits, minimizing the risks
Despite the above, many companies are not maximizing their benefits. Worse, they may have actually created new security risks. This comes from the fact that remote server access tools have been adopted gradually, one at a time, often supplied by the manufacturers of the data center’s existing equipment. To maximize the benefits of remote server access, while minimizing the risks, companies need a strategy and a dedicated software solution for Remote Access Management.
What are the new security risks?
A critical security risk lies in access management: the vast majority of organizations store their passwords, user names, IP addresses, server names and more in a single spreadsheet or homegrown database. This provides IT personnel with almost unrestricted access to security-critical data, even data that has no relevance to their tasks. Windows admins can see how to access Unix machines, network admins can see how to access servers etc. There is no benefit to this, and considerable security risk. All an employee, intern or consultant needs to do is download the spreadsheet to a flash drive, and they can carry a corporation’s secrets out of the building.
The solution: task-appropriate access
To improve corporate security, a Remote Access Management solution should limit servers and IT tools to task-appropriate access, e.g. Windows admins should be able to access Windows servers only. An admin that only require RDP access should not have access to power and KVM.
Measuring operational efficiency: resolving critical issues faster
When a server goes down, resolution speed is what matters. With a spreadsheet or custom database, speed is a problem: first, the IT admin is notified of the issue. Then they have to open the spreadsheet, locate the name of the server, and copy and paste its IP address and password and username info. Dozens of mouse clicks and many minutes can pass before a device can be found. If, for example, an attempted RDP solution fails, the operator may try a KVM fix, and the copy and paste process begins again.
Over a typical shift, the wasted minutes can add up to wasted hours of valuable work time.
The solution: a minimum 6x faster server access and resolution
Minicom compared the mouse-clicks required to access a server with RDP and a spreadsheet, vs RDP and our AccessIT dashboard.
The spreadsheet took 37 clicks simply to access a server. AccessIT software cut the number of clicks to six. And that was a best-case situation. For each service attempt—KVM, iLO, PDU—the number of clicks, and the server downtime—jumps drastically.