By Mike Talon
RemotelyAnywhere Server Edition, currently in version 5.3, is a remote monitoring/control system. I've been working with this product for many years, and I've seen it evolve from a simplistic tool to a shareware product to a full-fledged commercial application.
RemotelyAnywhere has a simple, fast interface for basic needs and offers an in-depth client for total control. The software has definitely come of age, and it's ready for use in the corporate Windows Server world.
You can install RemotelyAnywhere via a standard MSI installer package; either choose a default installation, or go through several custom configuration options. The software installs a miniature HTTP/WAP server, a set of two services, and a series of binaries.
If you choose the default settings, the services listen over port 2000 for default connections, port 23 for Telnet, and a few other ports for different services. You can change or disable any of these ports at any time after installation.
The services listen for HTTP connections (choose with or without SSL). You can connect to the remote server via any normal Internet browser, but Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator 5.x and higher are your best bets.
No client-side installation is necessary—just a browser. However, certain aspects of the software will download Java applets and small plug-ins when you first use them.
After connecting to the remote server, you can use an easy-to-follow HTML interface that allows you to control—without touching the desktop console—almost any configuration and monitoring tool. This includes the server's task list, services states, drivers, registry hives, and file system.
For more intense control, you can launch a Java-based application that offers complete control over the remote desktop. You can handle color-depth differences and remove wallpapers to make the process faster and easier, and you can even lock out the remote keyboard and mouse to avoid two people trying to touch the same desktop console at once. Once again, you don't need to install any client-side software for this to work; the Java application just loads in the browser when necessary.
The initial display offers a wealth of information up front, including CPU and memory loads, recent connections via RemotelyAnywhere, operating system, hot-fix and service pack information, and other data regarding the status and health of your server and OS.
In addition to those features that you need a full-fledged Internet browser to use, there are a series of WAP and mobile-browser tools that you can access from any mobile device that supports these protocols. You can control services and tasks, monitor common settings, and even reboot a remote server, provided you have proper security credentials to access the system itself. The same levels of secure login and transmission apply to mobile devices as to regular access, so you can safely allow remote administrators to work from the field.
If you're looking for innovative ways to handle lights-out data centers—such as those commonly put into place at disaster recovery data centers—this tool is an optimal choice to meet nearly any remote-access need. To download a free, 30-day trial edition, check out RemotelyAnywhere's Web site.
Mike Talon is an IT consultant and freelance journalist who has worked for both traditional businesses and dot-com startups.