Bomgars Helping Hand

B200 reaches out over the Net to troubled PCs.

Bomgars B200 appliance enables remote control of any PC that can make a connection to the Internet.

The 1U (1.75-inch) B200 appliance securely handles the connection between a user and a live support representative.

B200 is best suited in a call center where the support technician is separated from the user by firewalls and other network infrastructure that can interfere with inbound remote control connections.

B200 9.2 started shipping March 5 and costs $3,690. Licenses for a single support technician start at $1,695. The cost is competitive with offerings from Citrix Systems GoToMyPC or LogMeIns Rescue.

During eWEEK Labs tests, we were able to avoid security device reconfiguration of any of our networks by placing the B200 appliance outside our firewall where it could be freely accessed by users and technicians.

During tests, we issued users a Web address to which they could go to log on for remote support. Once the user logged on, a small client agent was installed on his or her system. The technician, connecting through the B200 appliance, was then able to ask the user for permission to take control of his or her troubled PC or Mac and attempt to fix the problem.

Security, ease of use, screen update speed and mouse control are the key issues with any remote control application.

B200 tries to negotiate for SSLv3 (Secure Sockets Layer Version 3) to secure the communication channel. In our case, we configured SupportDesk to fall back to SSLv2 (Secure Sockets Layer Version 2) if the user browser was unable to provide for SSLv3. We used Fluke Networks OptiView Series III analyzer to monitor network traffic and confirm that connections were secure from casual sniffing.

We found that using B200 was comparable to using systems with preinstalled client software, such as Carbon Copy from Alitiris or pcAnywhere from Symantec. With all of these systems, it takes just a few mouse clicks to get started.

However, one of the chief differences between B200 and traditional remote control packages is that B200 software is completely uninstalled at the end of a session. This will likely give users peace of mind that their systems wont be accessed randomly by help desk staff and should give IT managers a break from having to keep tabs on the latest patches and security advisories for remote control software installed on user systems.

We found screen refresh and mouse control to be similar in speed and clarity to that provided by LogMeIn. Using both B200 and LogMeIn, we accessed the same systems via the Internet and could see no noticeable difference in performance between the two. In fact, the speed of both B200 and LogMeIn was outstanding—mouse movements were nearly simultaneous between the support technician system and the user system when using either platform.

B200 offers amenities that we havent seen in similar offerings, including canned messages, support teaming and session recording. Canned messages allowed us to enter phrases such as "Hello, how can I help you?" that support technicians use over and over. (Anyone who has worked or managed a help desk will appreciate the automation of politeness.)

The Teams feature enabled us to group support technicians with specific skills. This will allow easier dispatch of the technicians most qualified to solve specific problems.

B200s session recording capabilities let us replay entire support sessions. We were recorded sessions for training and accountability purposes, and the feature even allowed us to record the chat between the representative and the user.


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