In this edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I continue my ongoing look at mobile and wireless remote administration and various products that enable remote administration. Kesem Technology's Serverphone is a remote-administration product that has similar functionality to Sonic Mobility's sonicadmin product, which I described in the January 31, 2002, edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE.

Serverphone is a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) application. WAP applications involve the use of a microbrowser and run on a standard Web server. Therefore, you can run the application on any device that has a WAP microbrowser.

You can use the Serverphone application in two main ways. First, you can use Serverphone as part of Serverphone.net, an approach that provides services in a manner similar to an application service provider (ASP). To use Serverphone.net, you simply enter your server's IP address, along with your administrative account details and password. Then you point your WAP-enabled device to http://www.serverphone.net/wap to access your remote-administration tools. Kesem Technology maintains the operation of this remote-administration service. Serverphone's functionality includes the ability to ping and reboot servers and to restart services. However, Serverphone appears to lack sonicadmin's X10 and command-prompt functionality.

Second, you can buy an enterprise version of the Serverphone solution and install the software on one of your enterprise Web servers. Serverphone Enterprise is accessible on your server and lets you control and administer enterprise servers. The straightforward installation stores all the necessary files in the \serverphone directory in the \wwwroot folder. After the installation is complete, you need to change the Web server's root directory to C:\inetpub\wwwroot\serverphone. You also need to add index.asp to the list of Default Documents, which is a property of the Web server. You can access Default Documents by right-clicking the Default Web Site and selecting Properties. You then use the Properties dialog box to change the Web server's root directory.

After you install the software and configure the Web server, you need to set up the server features and functionality. To begin setup, visit your server's setup interface (e.g., http://yourserver.com/setup) from your favorite Web browser. The setup process lets you configure users, add servers, and select installation properties. After setup, go to your server's administrative interface (e.g., http://yourserver.com) to administer Serverphone. Go to your server's mobile-administration interface (e.g., http://yourserver.com/mobile) to remotely control Serverphone's properties.

To use the Serverphone application from a WAP-enabled device, point the device to your server's WAP-administration interface (e.g., http://yourserver.com/wap). The Web site will let you log on and begin administering various server features.

Security is a primary concern when you're using mobile and wireless remote-administration solutions. WAP has several security problems, including low (i.e., 40-bit) encryption and the "WAP gap," in which data remains unencrypted in memory within the WAP gateway. Serverphone mitigates these risks by using account aliases so that you don't use the network administrative accounts; instead, you use a special account to access Serverphone.

Remote-administration applications can be quite useful. Both sonicadmin and Serverphone have solid features and provide solid platforms for remote administration.

http://www.serverphone.net

Until next time,
Steve Milroy, steve@milroy.com