Rove Mobile Admin 5.1 delivers administrators powerful data center management tools for a smartphone.
Rove Mobile Admin 5.1 provides an excellent way for data
center administrators to monitor and troubleshoot server and application issues
from their mobile device, granting administrators better control and faster
response times when they are out of the office.
Mobile Admin adds a presentation layer tailored for mobile
devices that reorganizes server, operating system and enterprise
APIs and instrumentations into an easy to use set of troubleshooting
fits well on the small screens of today's smartphones. Although typical
remote access technologies such as VNC or Remote Desktop are baked into
the Mobile Admin client as well, the
Mobile Admin presentation affords faster and more intuitive access
Rove offers two versions of Mobile Admin: Professional and Basics. Basics costs $295 per user account, offering
remote access via SSH, TN3270/TN5250 or RDP plus a standard suite of Microsoft
server management and monitoring capabilities allowing the administrator to
peruse event logs or file explorer, run applications or schedule tasks, reboot
machines or restart services, or perform various troubleshooting tasks.
I tested Professional ($595 per user), which adds
to the Basics feature set with management support for third-party
platforms (Nagios, BMC Remedy or Microsoft System Center Operations
Manager), virtualization platforms (VMware or Hyper-V), databases
(Oracle or Microsoft
SQL Server), mobile device management suites (BlackBerry Enterprise
Microsoft's Mobile Device Manager), and Microsoft applications such as
Mobile Admin 5.1, which was released in February,
implemented changes in the remote interface to better reflect the way some administrators
or organizations look at their network.
In prior versions, administration was organized by server- so an
administrator would drill down into a particular machine to find the tool or
application they wished to access remotely. But with 5.1, Rove added a Services view that organizes the
infrastructure according to the management tool in question. In this way, all
Exchange servers or all IIS servers are automatically organized together under
that application within the Mobile Admin UI, for instance.
Rove offers client applications for an array of mobile
devices. I performed the bulk of my
testing using the iPhone and BlackBerry iterations-each of which were
downloadable from the respective mobile application stores. Mobile Admin also offers a client application
for Windows Mobile 6.0 and higher, or administrators can access the Web
interface from a PC browser. Rove also
recently started a beta program for a new client application for Android devices.
Mobile Admin offers a few avenues for administrators to secure
their remote management traffic. Mobile
Admin supports HTTPS, so I could configure my mobile clients to access the
Mobile Admin server directly by punching a hole in my perimeter firewall for TCP
port 4055. However, Rove recommends
using the existing VPN infrastructure to access the protected resources
instead, provided a VPN client exists for the devices used for management.
More elegant, however, is Rove's BlackBerry mobile application,
which utilizes the MDS channel built into an existing BlackBerry Enterprise
Server infrastructure. This leverages
the 3DES- or AES-encrypted channel utilized for all other enterprise BlackBerry
traffic as it travels from the device, over the BlackBerry network to the BES, where
it is decrypted and forwarded to the Mobile Admin server.
In my tests, I used Mobile Admin to administer a series of
Windows servers-both in the same domain as the Mobile Admin server and those
in a Workgroup-and found it quite simple to administer basic Windows
functionality. I was able to quickly
stop and start services, add users to the domain, schedule tasks and perform an
NSLookup. For Windows enterprise applications,
I was able to manage incoming and outgoing message size restrictions and
manage queues and stores within an Exchange 2003 environment. And for IIS, I found I could remotely start
and stop Websites or change site security settings.
I set up Mobile Admin to administer my BlackBerry Enterprise
Server 5.0 environment, which allowed me to see BES server status, ID and
licensing information as well my BES failover configuration and status. I could
stop and start the dispatch service, which conveniently warned me that if I was
managing via a BlackBerry device that stopping the service would kill my
management connection. I could see
various information about an individual user's usage such as failed and successful
logins, status, defined BlackBerry policy in effect and message delivery status. I could also add users and send an activation
e-mail, provided the user was already in the BlackBerry database. I could see no way to trigger a live
synchronization between the BlackBerry database and the Windows domain to add a
user who was just added to Active Directory.
I also set up Mobile Admin to remotely access eWeek Labs'
VMware vSphere infrastructure. From within the
Mobile Admin UI, I could see my entire VMware data center and drill down to see clusters with
all their included host servers. I could
see which client machines were running on each host in the cluster and monitor
CPU and memory usage, as well as IP and DNS information. I could perform a limited number of actions
on virtual machines. I could powercycle or suspend client VMs or view assigned
and completed tasks and events. I could
also edit virtual settings, increasing or decreasing the amount of processors
and RAM assigned to a VM. Unfortunately,
Mobile Admin doesn't account for the state of the VM when editing configuration,
so it would send the job to VMware whether the machine was powered
on. If the VM was off, the change was effected. But if the VM was running, the command from
Mobile Admin was simply ignored by VMware.
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.