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Choosing Software and Hardware Tools

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

After you determine how much you want to manage remotely, the next step is to select the tools and supporting components you need to accomplish your remote management tasks. Figure 5.3 illustrates the place of this step in the process.

Figure 5.3   Choosing Software Tools and Hardware Components

Choosing Software Tools and Hardware Components

As you select your tools, think about the tasks you want to perform remotely when you have network access — by using in-band connections — and those you want to perform remotely when you do not have network access — by using out-of-band connections. As you select tools, evaluate their potential impact on your environment and build any needed environmental adjustments into your remote management plan.

Selecting In-Band or Out-of-Band Tools

In-band management is always the method of choice for managing servers when you can access them through their standard connections. If a server is functional enough to respond through the standard connection, conventional in-band management tools can provide a much broader range of functionality — and possibly greater security — than you might achieve with out-of-band management.


  • While the security of in-band management is highly dependent on the individual management tool, the security of out-of-band management is highly dependent on your out-of-band component configuration. For example, in a configuration that uses a remote serial connection, the security of the out-of-band management is dependent on the security built into the modem. For information about the security implications for different out-of-band configurations, see "Designing the Hardware Configuration" later in this chapter.

Keep in mind that out-of-band management is a last resort when you cannot access the server in any other way. The goal of out-of-band management is always to bring a server back into service so that you can manage it with in-band tools.

Table 5.1 shows whether to use in-band or out-of-band tools for various types of tasks during various operating states. After you know whether to use an in-band tool or an out-of-band tool, you can select the most appropriate specific tool or component, as described later in this chapter, for the tasks you want to perform remotely.

Table 5.1   Choosing In-Band or Out-of-Band Tools


During This Operating State For This Type of Task Use This Type of Tool

System powering on or off, or resetting

Power up, power down, reset

Out-of-band and in-band with Remote Desktop for Administration

Firmware initializing

Configure firmware, troubleshoot, restart

Out-of-band with supporting firmware

Operating system loading

Choose operating system to start, troubleshoot

Out-of-band, including Emergency Management Services

Text mode setup

Monitor, troubleshoot

Out-of-band, including Emergency Management Services

GUI mode setup

Monitor, troubleshoot

Out-of-band, including Emergency Management Services

Operating system fully functional

Monitor, troubleshoot, modify configuration settings


Operating system not responding on network

Troubleshoot, restart

Out-of-band, including Emergency Management Services

Stop message occurred

Troubleshoot, restart

Out-of-band, including Emergency Management Services

System extremely slow responding on network

Troubleshoot, restart

In-band and out-of-band, including Emergency Management Services

Evaluating Tools for Environmental Impact

As you evaluate the software and hardware tools to use, consider the impact they might have on your network environment. For example, some tools present more security risks than others, and some increase network traffic more than others. Considerations such as these might influence your selection of one tool over another, or they might identify additional changes you need to make to your environment to mitigate the impact. The documentation provided with a remote management tool might contain information indicating its potential impact on your environment and any configuration changes needed for its use. For more information about configuring your environment for remote management, see "Configuring Your Infrastructure for Remote Management" later in this chapter.

As you develop your remote management plan, include the following lists:

Tasks you plan to perform remotely   The more comprehensive you make this list, the easier it will be to identify all the tools you need. A task can be broad in scope (for example, manage DHCP servers), or it can be narrow in scope (for example, change the static IP address on a server). This list should include not only in-band tasks but also any required out-of-band tasks, such as remotely installing the operating system or powering up the computer.

Tools for performing the tasks   Typically, you can use several different remote management tools to perform the same task. Include in your list all the tools that apply to each remote task you want to perform. In some cases, you do not need to use a specific tool to perform a remote administration task; rather, you simply need to change a configuration setting. If a task does not require a specific tool, note this in your remote administration plan. If your environment includes a mix of operating systems, you might need to look for tools that provide interoperability for some tasks. Make sure this list also includes any out-of-band tools or components you plan to obtain or install.

Network impacts to be addressed   Remote administration can have any of several impacts on your network: it can increase network traffic, decrease server performance, or create security vulnerabilities. You might need to reconfigure network, system, or security settings to mitigate or eliminate these impacts. Include in this list each potential impact and the specific steps you plan to take to address it.

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