SMS Remote Tools is a suite of tools that you can use to provide help desk assistance and troubleshooting support to clients in an SMS hierarchy. With Remote Tools, it is not necessary to physically be at the client's location to provide assistance. Remote Tools give you full control over the client's computer and allows you to perform any operation as if you were physically at the client's location.
In addition to SMS Remote Tools, SMS 2003 integrates Remote Assistance and Terminal Services into the SMS Administrator console for assisting supported clients. You can also use the SMS Administrator console to remotely configure Remote Assistance settings for supported clients and then launch Remote Assistance session. From the SMS Administrator console, you can also start a Remote Desktop Connection session to supported clients.
It is strongly recommended that you use the Windows Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Connection features of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 rather than SMS Remote Control on computers running those platforms. Windows Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Connection are more secure technologies and are built-in features of the operating system.
The Remote Tools suite consists of the following tools:
Remote Control, to remotely operate a client's computer by sending mouse clicks and keyboard strokes from the SMS Administrator console. You can work with a client's computer just as if you were physically at the client's desktop.
Remote Reboot, to remotely restart a client's computer.
Remote Chat, to chat with a user at the Advanced Client computer.
Remote File Transfer, to transfer files between an Advanced Client and your site server.
Remote Execute, to run programs on a client computer.
SMS Client Diagnostics, to run diagnostic utilities on a client.
Ping Test, to determine the reliability and speed of the network connection between the site server and a client.
The greatest advantage of Remote Tools is that you can perform all these important administrative tasks from your desktop, saving time and minimizing travel.
You can use Remote Tools across a WAN or use Microsoft Remote Access Service (RAS) links to assist clients in remote locations. Remote Tools supports RAS connections with a minimum speed of 28.8 Kbps. You can also establish a connection into your organization and then access clients on your network.
How Remote Tools Work
Before you can use Remote Tools, you must prepare the clients by enabling the Remote Tools Client Agent. When you enable and configure the Remote Tools Client Agent in a site, SMS installs the remote tools client agent components on all clients in the site.
When you need to use a remote tool to provide assistance to a client, a connection must be established between the site server and the client. When the connection is established, you can use any tool from the Remote Tools suite to provide assistance to clients. The Remote Tools feature allows you to establish up to four Remote Tools connections so you can provide assistance to up to four clients simultaneously from a single SMS Administrator console.
Depending on how you configured Remote Tools, Remote Tools operations might require the client's approval. For example, when you establish a remote connection to a client and start the file transfer tool, you might need client approval before you can transfer files between the client and your desktop.
Figure 3.6 Remote Tools process
Remote Tools works as follows:
SMS collects discovery data from the site's clients.
Discovery data is processed and propagated up the hierarchy as follows (this is similar to how software and hardware inventory propagate up the hierarchy):
Secondary sites send discovery data to their parent sites.
On primary site servers, SMS processes the discovery data and stores the information in the site database.
If the primary site server is not the central site server, it sends the discovery data to its parent site. The site also sends discovery data that it received from any lower level sites. This step is repeated until the discovery data reaches the central site.
At the end of this process, every primary site contains the discovery data of the site's clients and of clients of lower level sites in the hierarchy.
When you enable Remote Tools and remote assistance for a site, SMS enables Remote Tools on the site's clients as follows:
SMS installs the Remote Tools Client Agent on all Legacy Clients in the site (the agent is preinstalled on Advanced Clients).
SMS sends the appropriate Advanced Client policy that enables Remote Tools on Advanced Clients.
You can now use Remote Tools to access a client from any of its parent sites that contains the client's discovery data.
Remote Tools Throughout the Site Hierarchy
At a primary site server, you can use Remote Tools to access any client in the hierarchy whose discovery data is stored at the site's database. Because discovery data propagates from clients up the hierarchy, you can run Remote Tools to access a client from any of the client's parent sites. From the central site, which has discovery data of all the client's of the hierarchy, you can run Remote Tools to access any client in the hierarchy.
Benefits of Remote Tools
By using one or a combination of remote tools, you can detect, diagnose, and successfully repair a wide range of problems with a client computer. You can assist clients with hardware issues, software issues, and problems with the operating system.
By using the Remote Control tool, you can take control of a client by displaying a duplicate view of the client's desktop in a window on your desktop. You can view the client performing a problematic task and identify errors, or you can use your keyboard and mouse to simulate keyboard and mouse strokes to the client computer to demonstrate the correct way to perform that task. You can also view error messages exactly as they appear on the client's screen, instead of depending on the user to paraphrase the error message.
You can use Remote File Transfer to transfer a corrupted file from the client to the site server for investigation. You can replace a corrupted file on a client by transferring a correct version of the file from the site server or from another healthy client. You can examine a healthy client and compare registry settings to the registry settings on the client that is having troubles. You can use Remote Reboot to complete a software upgrade and to see any restart-related problems that occur on the client.
From your desktop you can use Remote Execute to run a command line on a client, such as a virus checker or a hard disk drive defragmenter (in the security context of the administrator's computer).
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