Thursday, March 6, 2008

Remote Control 5.1 is out!

Well it is official, the long awaited version of Remote Control is out as of September 25th!

Ok maybe not long awaited but I know secretly you want it ;)

I plan to go over the product more in a couple days but thought I would put some notes up on it and some first impressions.

The product is available online. There are 5 files available for download:

IBM Tivoli Remote Control Quick Start Guide Version 5.1.0 , Multiplatforms, Multilingual (C10W4ML)
IBM Tivoli Remote Control Quick Start CD V5.1.0, Multiplatforms, Multilingual (C10W5ML)
IBM Tivoli Remote Control Disk 1 V5.1.0, Multiplatforms, Multilingual (C10W6ML)
IBM Tivoli Remote Control Disk 2 V5.1.0, Multiplatforms, Multilingual (C10W7ML)
IBM Tivoli Remote Control Disk 3 V5.1.0, Multiplatforms, Multilingual (C10W8ML)

The download names are actually a little misleading (at least I think). Disk 1 is for Windows server and targets, Disk 2 is for Linux and Disk 3 is for additional setup (have not looked at this yet). The other downloads are documentation. Don't bother with those. Go to Info Center

Well this is remote control so it is used to control remotely ;) There is also the file transfer, reboot and chat functions. The remote control has various types of control (active, guidance and monitor)

Web Interface
Yes it has a web interface! Everything that needs to be done is done in this interface. The interface is good, not great, but good. It does not have the nice look and flow of TPM, but it is a far site better than the 3.x methods.

Collaborative Sessions
The new cool thing for RC is the Collaborative RC. This allows multiple "controllers" so be on the same target at the same time. The first controller becomes the master who will enable the collaborative session. The second controller will initiate the second session, which is then approved by the master and now two people are able to control the target. Although control is actually only done by one at a time and the other is monitoring. For the second controller to control the session, the master selects the desired person and makes them the active controller. Nice!

All sessions are logged in a database on the server. So anyone with the rights can run reports to see session information.

Rights settings
Unlike the old RC where you had to edit all the rc_ files, all configuration is done in the web interface

For the first round I decided to install on Windows only. Just because.

The install of the Server took 15 minutes! It was up and running and I was able to log in and see everything. Well no targets yet, so I guess not everything.

The install of the clients was very easy. There is a 2.5MB MSI or 4.5MB EXE that you use to install the agent. After a couple quick questions, the agent is installed and running. A refresh of the webpage and you see the new target

There are a couple options that I have not looked at yet, but should be looked at.
1. Database: The database that is installed/used by default is Cloudscape. There is support for DB2 and Oracle, but requires extra configuration
2. Read Only LDAP: Authentication can be done through LDAP. Have not looked into it too much, but it does look like it should be easy to set up.

Using the interface to start a session is simple.
1. On the main page, browse or search for the desired target
2. click on the checkbox which will activate the context menu
3. select the "Start Session"
4. Select Active (or whatever) from the list of actions
5. Press Connect


In the web interface you can set up the user ids and groups.

Security is applied at the group level and then the users are assigned to the groups.

Groups can have various permissions defined such as allow/disallow file transfer, chat, inactivity timeout, auditing and many others.

There are quite a few options to look at in the product and I plan to look at it more in the coming days. I will also try to get some snapshots in place for your viewing pleasure.

First Impressions
For the features that I have tried so far, I am pretty happy with the new version.

The agent that is required is small (not like TPM) and easy to install. The server is simple to install with the default database.

The web interface is good, but it really needs some more polish and flow. It is functional but I did not find it intuitive.

Reporting is good. It is nice to be able to pull up reports for targets on session activity and even the status information.

I am looking forward to using this product more and will post more information soon.

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