CCSS Bolsters Wireless iSeries Management
August 24, 2004 Alex Woodie
CCSS started shipping a new release of its wireless systems management tool for OS/400 servers this month. QRemote Control Version 2.0 has several new features, including an e-mail client and enhanced security that should help systems administrators keep a closer eye on iSeries servers from GSM mobile phones.
CCSS launched QRemote Control in late 2000 near the peak of the wireless hype cycle. At that time, wireless applications were set to be the next big thing, especially with widespread expectations in the industry that speedy third-generation (3G) mobile network were sure to soon become a reality.
Now, in 2004, mobile telephone network operators are just starting to roll out third-generation services in select American cities, and technology buyers are better at spotting hype. While the addition of low-resolution cameras has done wonders for the sales of cell phones to consumers, business technology buyers are a tougher sell, and most realize that cell phones make lousy user interfaces for most applications.
There are cases, however, in which the flexibility of mobile phones outweighs the trouble of navigating their tiny screens. Power users and sales positions may have a need to access certain parts of the database. But the group of users with the most to gain from cell-enabled access to OS/400 servers are systems administrators and operators.
QRemote Control was designed with systems administrators and operators in mind. The product, which is an add-on to CCSS’ QMessage Monitor, extends to mobile phones some of the message management and escalation capabilities that QMessage Monitor delivers from its Windows interface. The product is based on the Short Messaging Service (SMS) communication interface, offered on cell phones that use the Global Systems for Communication (GSM) cell network. GSM is the single standard used in Europe, and is one of several competing standards in the United States.
Systems administrators have used alphanumeric pagers for years in order to receive immediate notification of problems with their AS/400 servers. QRemote Control takes that capability to the next level by allowing them to reply to messages they receive on their cell phones through the program. It also lets them run commands and programs, and access data.
Security, availability, and communication have been enhanced with QRemote Control Version 2.0. With this release, CCSS now runs the PC component of QRemote Control (which is used to set up the software and monitor messages) as a Windows Service. CCSS says this allows the product to run unsupervised and to start automatically whenever the PC needs to be rebooted (which, as we all know, happens quite often with PCs). The QRemote Control PC interface also now features a built-in e-mail client, based on the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) standard.
Finally, this release also builds on new auditing capabilities that CCSS introduced with QMessage Monitor Version 6 earlier this summer (see “Message Monitoring Software from CCSS Gets Tighter Security”). Now only users with pre-defined authorization access are able to receive, respond, and reply to specific messages, which, CCSS says, ensures that sensitive messages can never be seen or answered by unauthorized personnel.
Despite the lack of a third-generation network, cell phones have still become an indispensable part of our social and business lives. “Products like QRemote Control are making the transition from what we regard as a luxury to what we consider a necessity,” says CCSS’s managing director, Ray Wright. “Managers may be juggling a number of roles; that means they are on the road, in meetings, or away from the desk. There’s simply no reason to miss a critical system message when we have the technology to respond to a more flexible working lifestyle.”