Mobile Network Administration: Managing It All from Your BlackBerry Smartphone!
As companies look to extend their IT investment, reduce IT workload and expand BlackBerry® solution deployments, mobile network administration is satisfying the needs of stakeholders across the enterprise.
C-level executives value immediate cost savings and ROI from streamlined IT operations. IT Directors like the faster response times, low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and ease of implementation available in today’s solutions, not to mention the reduction in the duration of costly network downtime. And IT Administrators appreciate the ability to solve problems from virtually anywhere, without having to be in the office or connected to the network from their home. In this article IT professionals share their opinion on the value of mobile network administration, and Rove (formerly Idokorro Mobile) President and CEO, Rob Woodbridge, shares his insight on the topic.
Mobile network administration lets IT Administrators manage the network from anywhere. Resetting passwords, editing login scripts, editing or changing members, rebooting servers, and even accessing Telnet/SSH can all be done on the BlackBerry smartphone, using mobile administration applications from BlackBerry Alliance Partners.
These applications typically send emails or SMS alerts to an administrator’s smartphone when network problems arise. The administrator can then troubleshoot and fix most problems from wherever they are.
For IT departments, the benefits are clear, according to Geoffrey Freelander, Network Engineer at Southern Nazarene University (SNU). Freelander oversees 2,500 email users and 20 servers using Mobile Admin and Mobile SSH applications offered by Rove, a BlackBerry Alliance Partner and leading provider of mobile IT management solutions.
One of the biggest benefits to SNU’s IT department is the decrease in troubleshooting and resolution time. Routine problems are now resolved in less than one minute, down from 30 minutes.
“It’s really impressive how much you can do when you put administration tools on the BlackBerry smartphone,” says Freelander. “If one of our email servers gets overloaded or locked up, I’m alerted on my BlackBerry smartphone and I can get into our Linux® machines and fix the problem before anyone knows anything was wrong.”
Discovering and resolving problems before end users do greatly impacts service levels for IT help desks and administrators. And this reduced time to resolution lets IT departments better manage the growth of their BlackBerry deployment while controlling costs.
“Mobile network administration significantly reduces, if not eliminates, any downtime, if we have
server issues or Active Directory issues,” says Victor Boyd, Network Administrator for Natural Alternatives International Inc., a global nutritional supplement manufacturer. The company runs 60 servers, 250 workstations and numerous IP-enabled phones to support offices in California, Switzerland and Japan.
“We’re using mobile applications to remotely Telnet/SSH to routers and switches and can find out what’s gone wrong, modify configurations and troubleshoot the problem,” Boyd says. According to Boyd, mobile network administration has made a significant difference to the company’s bottom line. Natural Alternatives also uses applications from Rove.
Rove President and CEO, Rob Woodbridge, credits recent improvements in handheld technology as a key contributor to the increasing interest in Rove’s mobile network applications.
“Usability is extremely important to gain adoption among Administrators,” says Woodbridge. “When Administrators try Rove’s network management applications on their BlackBerry smartphones, frankly, they love the experience. And the trackball functionality on new BlackBerry smartphones does an even better job of simulating the mouse-desktop interface.”
Top Three Considerations When Evaluating a Mobile Network Administration Solution
Woodbridge points out three important considerations when evaluating mobile network administration solutions. (A complete list of BlackBerry Alliance Partner solutions for Remote Network and Systems Management for IT Administration is available in the BlackBerry® Solutions Guide 2007.)
1. Ease of Implementation
Find a solution that leverages your current IT infrastructure, and can grow with you as you expand the number of smartphone deployments across the company. Which solutions will require little or no changes to your current IT infrastructure or handheld implementation?
2. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Consider the main components of TCO: initial software cost, upgrades, maintenance and technical support, and training. How intuitive is each application? Can they be installed and operated with minimal or no training? What happens if you make infrastructure changes? Can the application be easily reinstalled on different hardware?
3. Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI from a mobile network administration deployment can be significant. Here are several areas in which ROI can be realized:
- Reduced infrastructure costs (on-call staff needs only a wireless device instead of a wireless device or pager plus a laptop)
- Reduced administration costs (fixed costs including labor costs)
- Improved remediation costs
- Improved customer service and reduced help desk support
- Higher IT administrator productivity
- Prevention of lost revenue due to reduced downtime
Woodbridge recommends evaluating how each solution proposes to deliver savings across each of these areas, so you can predict ROI with confidence to executives.
Freedom for IT Administrators
In addition to the bottom line improvements, mobile network administration solutions also liberate IT Administrators in their personal life. Working late in the office, staying ‘captive’ in their own homes in order to access the network from a laptop, or having to drive into the office is now a thing of the past for IT Administrators at organizations like SNU and Natural Alternatives.
“It’s a real quality of life issue,” says SNU’s Freelander. “None of us are as worried about being around a computer now. We know we can fix semi-routine problems remotely. Mobile Admin on my BlackBerry smartphone is like having a laptop with me all day long.”
Extending the Value of the BlackBerry Solution
“Before I began this process, I didn’t know what could be done with BlackBerry,” says Freelander. “I understood the email side, but I’ve learned so much more about the software out there and the possibility to deploy more applications,” he says.
“Smartphones are becoming increasingly powerful, screen resolutions are excellent, and networks are stronger,” says Woodbridge. “With virtually no limitations in terms of capabilities, and with the exceptional security features built in to the BlackBerry solution, IT professionals are finding remote administration on the smartphone is a great way to extend the value of their BlackBerry deployment.“
BlackBerry Solutions Guide 2007 – More applications and service providers. Under the “Applications” tab select “Remote Network and Systems Management for IT Administration”
www.rovemobile.com (formerly Idokorro Mobile) – For more on Rove’s Mobile Admin and Mobile SSH Solutions
Southern Nazarene University – RIM Case Study
Natural Alternatives International Inc. – Rove (previously Idokorro Mobile) Case Study