Remote Management of PC & Servers

Posted on 2012-09-15
Last Modified: 2012-09-20
Hi there,

I am employed by a small IT services company. We are looking into managed solutions. I am wondering if there is a cheap software out there, which we can use to Manage machines machines on remote sites. Things like patch management, Inventory & Monitoring etc..

We are very small and cannot afford anything too costly. Any suggestions would be a great help.

Thanks in advance.
Question by:fasuln
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    by:Norm Dickinson
    There is some reasonable functionality in which is free and may be a good place to start. has many tools which are free and many which are more powerful and is worth looking into as well. There are many others out there but the cost goes up from there.
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    Windows Servers and Desktop OS's above pro you can remotely Administer via a remote desktop connection, which is built-in. For further things you can use spiceworks, which is free:

    Author Comment

    Hi guys, thanks for you replies. i am not looking for a remote control software. I need something that can monitor and manage desktop's ans servers. I know of Spiceworks, but its not something i am interested in. They seem to collect usage date provide it to hardware and software vendors. Advertising is also very annoying.

    Any other suggestions?
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    by:Norm Dickinson
    These guys are fairly reasonable and powerful...a good compromise.
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    If you don't want spiceworks (personally I find it a good product and contrary to others, very easy to setup and use). But if you don't want that then I'd recommend Nagios, which is OpenSource. But it isn't easy to either setup or use:
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    GFI Max is very inexpensive for workstations and servers and they provide a LOT of monitoring.  At the end of the day though, YOU should not be paying for this.  Your CLIENTS should be.  Not directly, but your monitoring and management costs should be included in your fees.  If your clients want pro-active coverage, then they should pay a fee for that.  That fee should be AT LEAST as much as your costs.  If you don't want to do it that way, fine, but then your hourly rates should be high enough to cover the costs... which in essence, is STILL doing it that way.  And are you going to offer this to a client that calls you once every 6 months for 2-4 hours?  Or only to clients with regular monthly work?
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    LVL 76

    Expert Comment

    Wsus patch management for windows.
    Openms, adding to the spiceworks, nagios suggestion.
    The monitoring can be setup to report to your own server.
    For wsus you could configure it to auto approve security/critical patches. While others have to be approved I.e. some custom applications might stop functioning when a recommended, optional update is installed.  Using a test group to make new updates available for install and then approve for the rest if e update causes no issues.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    You are going to have to be a wee bit more explicit. Monitoring is a vague word and can be used as:

    Monitoring Hardware
    Monitoring Bandwidth & Network Usage & Packet Sniffing
    Monitoring Event Logs and Computer Health
    Monitoring Storage use and Performance Management
    Monitoring Security Vulnerabilities
    Monitoring Software Licensing
    Monitoring Malware
    Monitoring ITSec through Access and Application Ports

    There are Asset management tools that allow you to download a console and purchase a customized package of tools. This is usually for Enterprise companies.

    My recommendation is:
    Set down with the boss or IT managers of this company, as well as the finance department and get a budget together as well as a plan for what tools you want.

    Many tools that you lay out will be for free and already built in. In fact, many paid products use command line tools that provide the same information.

    Example: you can perform a WMI query to get just about any information you want from a computer while working off another computer. Many tools use WMI to populate their SQL databse and put that data into a nice tidy package for you to see. WMI is used a lot with Spiceworks.

    Run this at the command prompt to see for yourself:

    You can also use Ping as a tool. Yes, ping is used to show a HeartBeat Monitor. When the ping errors or is unreachable, Heartbeat Monitors will alert you. When you hear the term Heartbeat monitor, most likely they are using ping behind the scenes. Solar Winds tools has a Heartbeat Monitor application.

    Speaking of Solar Winds, they have a nice tidy set of free tools for your network performance that you might want to check out.

    Another list of helpful tools can be found on Microsoft's sysinternal web page. These are free and helpful in some cases.

    Centralized management is often done through a domain controller and you can use a Free Remote Server Admin Tool Set to administer a domain controller from a PC.

    Author Closing Comment

    GFI offered the best combination of feature I was looking for and were not too expensive.

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