3.24.2011

Remotely manage servers with a mobile app

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by IBM Senior Technical Staff Member Patrick Bohrer, a research scientist working in mobile systems management.

You can start a car and read a book with a smartphone. But manage a server?

A systems administrator can now monitor an IBM BladeCenter or System x server with the IBM Mobile Remote Systems application – for free.

Walk down an aisle of servers and it’s a myriad of buttons and system indicator lights. Checking on or making changes to a system can be confusing. The IBM Research team in Austin, Texas put the entire interface into a mobile app. Now an administrator can manage and monitor multiple servers from anywhere.

Currently only available for iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), the app can check systems’ health in a single view, then drill down to examine an individual system’s state, and even perform tasks such as restarting blades, and changing ownership of the media tray or keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) on BladeCenter servers.

Securing access

In a datacenter, an administrator logs in to a system via a power-on password or maybe a screensaver password. On a mobile device, this credential check may mean unlocking a phone through a simple power-on password.

Once unlocked, the user – and when an administrator is away from work, the “user” may be friends and family – has access to every application on the device.

To avoid this potential breach, the Mobile Systems Remote app requires its own application password. The password is required again when the user wants to make a system change. And the app will erase all of its data after too many incorrect password attempts.

User feedback: expanding devices and systems

Administrators can currently access BladeCenter management modules and System x racks that have RSA2 cards (a PCI card service). The app will soon expand to System x boxes with the latest System x Integrated Management Modules (IMM).

The app is only supported for the iPhone right now, but based on customer and user feedback, look for Android and Blackberry options, soon. Have feedback for the team? Add comments to the user forum.

12 comments:

  1. Definitely very exciting progress! Considering the workability with the applications of this level implemented on and with server interfaces, i hope Python scripts are used vividly. Considering the workability that Python provides on the network levels and its easy-to-use interface with Java's RIM approach, i think there are brighter scopes. Applications can be made by using Python in which servers can act as an intermediate or maybe as the end-process. Scopes are bright! Congratulations on this vital progress made and implemented...

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  2. Just want to also point out that a lot of user feedback has already gone into this app. We reviewed the UIs and functions with customer admin users multiple times to ensure the app meets their needs and is usable. What's great is that users seem to generally LOVE this app!

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  3. Thumbs up to this cool app. Great help for the administrators who need to manage so many servers. This shows how much IBM is working to make 'smarter life' a reality :)

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  4. This is a great application, Question is why only for Apple devices what about Andriod and Java based mobile devices.

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  5. Thanks for the feedback. We have released this app specifically to get customer feedback. Based on the feedback we have received so far, we have begun work to add System x IMM support as well as Android support.

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  6. I would like to see a Symbian App.
    It is popular outside US and in Business use.

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  7. Sounds like a good idea, convenient app to use in a pinch! But, I wish HMC software gets a better(and faster) UIs... with more intuitive menu systems and more graphical Interface (like on mobiles, less drop down menus/tabs..)

    :) and something to manage VIOS!!

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  8. I've been trying to do exactly this, but for an AIX operating system and DB2 database.
    The big problem has been how to get thru the IBM firewall.

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  9. Is this app available as enterprise edition, I would require only very few people to download this app in my organization and also monitor their app activity. Do we require any mobile app developers for our in house team to do customization?

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  10. Functionality of this app would be great! It's very useful to system administrator who run's the server in organization or individual. The indicators alert for server issues are amazing! Is there any mobile app developers developed the same for android mobile. If so please forward the link for android app use.

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  11. Really good one. From the server room the maintenance has been progressed now. Through this apps, can control it from any where. That's good for admins. The security applications and the progresses done properly in this? For any developers this is must important. As a app developers in San francisco we just want to know about the security features.

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  12. Windows 8 mobile app ?

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