Group Policy and Remote Management
The healthcare sector is tied to technological advancements of the present era. Today there are a multitude of software solutions designed specifically for healthcare to solve various needs. These software solutions are typically installed, configured, and managed by the IT team on various systems across each healthcare organization. However, going through all the systems one by one to manage software is a time-consuming activity. The advancements in the IT sector have now empowered teams to manage multiple systems at once using the right software management approach. This module will review how software management is conducted in a healthcare organization. Let’s jump right in!
Group Policy (GP) is a management feature offered by Windows. It allows you to take control of multiple computers and users’ configurations within an Active Directory environment. Active Directory (AD) is a set of services and database that connects users with the network resources needed.
Group Policy (GP) provides a single centralized place to configure domains, sites, and units. You can manage Group Policies within the whole AD environment through the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). GPMC is an admin tool for Windows Server 2008 (and beyond). GPMC provides a user interface to visualize, manage, and troubleshoot GPs from this console. You can create Group Policy Objects (a collection of GP settings) to execute software installation, updates, maintenance settings, and many more.
GPMC is a great tool for software management of multiple devices. There are drawbacks however. It is not easy to use. The tool also lacks in delivering key features, such as version control, etc.
Remote Management Software
As the name implies, remote management software helps manage software on different systems remotely. Without a person being physically present at each device that runs the software. Remote management has emerged and expanded exponentially in the past few years. Through remote management software, you can access and manage the entire system or software from anywhere through a secure online connection. Let’s explore a few popular tools for remote software management.
Windows remote desktop protocol is one of the most common IT approaches to remote software management. Administrators can remotely log into another windows device within their network. This allows them to install updates, patch applications, troubleshoot issues as if they were present at the physical computer. The Windows RDP Client must be enabled on all managed computers. RDP sessions can even allow administrators to remotely log into multiple computers in the organization at the same time. Unlike a screen sharing application, the RDP session of the remote user is not visible to the end user. If you are standing in front of a computer that an admin has RDP’ed into, the computer will appear as logged out. If you were working on something, your session would have been suspended.
RDP is necessary for remotely accessing windows servers as well. Both physical servers and virtual machine servers. The remote session allows for installations, patching and rebooting. This saves a trip to the data center.
There are many 3rd party software companies that offer remote desktop software solutions. Clients that allow IT administrators to control the device’s mouse and keyboard from another device remotely. One of the leading names in the market is RemotePC, which is used by many Fortune 500 companies.
RemotePC is a remote access and control software application that is developed by IDrive company. The main function is to streamline remote access for smooth maintenance of computers and software. Moreover, it also allows transferring data and printing documents remotely. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.
RemotePC is an extremely user-friendly tool. To begin using it, an account must be created. Administrators should select a plan that suits the organization. Download, install, and configure RemotePC. Once everything is set up, select the computer you want to access and click “Connect”. That’s it! Through RemotePC you’ll be able to access any managed computer easily.
Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a remote desktop-sharing platform-independent application. It utilizes a server-client model and remote frame-buffer protocol to manage computers remotely. Through VNC, the desktop screen of one computer is viewed and controlled remotely by another computer.
A typical VNC system comprises of following elements:
- VNC Server: A program that shares the screen, thereby allowing the client to take control.
- VNC Client: A program that views, accesses, and controls the server computer.
- VNC Protocol: A remote frame buffer protocol that passes graphic primitives from the server to the client and event messages from the client to the server.
The working principle of VNC is based on the client/server model. The server is installed on the desktop that you want to mirror and control. There are plenty of VNC server software solutions that you can use, such as TightVNC, etc. Similarly, the client (VNC Viewer) is installed on the desktop where you want to display the other desktop’s content. You have to make sure that both desktops are connected to the same local network. The VNC server will capture the local display frame buffer contents and then share it with the client. This way, desktops can be managed remotely.
BeyondTrust, formerly Bomgar, is another remote software management tool that provides a secure way of accessing any device/system over the web from anywhere in the world. With BeyondTrust remote support, you can control, fix, and troubleshoot remote devices that are within or outside the corporate network. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Chrome OS.
The working principle of BeyondTrust remote support is very simple and user-friendly. Once you have installed the tool, you have to click the “Start” button and then generate the session key. Afterward, you have to let the other desktop user go to the specific URL and input the session key. Once done, the remote session will begin.
Webex is Cisco’s cloud-based suite of productivity tools that are meant to provide unified communications for any business and keep teams connected. Businesses actively use Webex for video conferencing, webinars, online meetings, and screen sharing. Many Fortune 500 companies are also users of Webex’s top-notch services.
During an online meeting, Webex allows the participants to provide or request remote desktop control. Through this, a participant can give access of its mouse and keyboard to someone else. This way, the IT team can get access to the system and do all the fixes or updates they want to do.
To provide access of your system, both persons should be using the desktop app and should be in the screen sharing session through a call or in space. Afterward, click the “Give remote control” to provide access to the screen to the other person. You can also send a request to access someone’s system. To do that, click the “Request control” icon, select the name, and then click “Request”. This way, the request is sent to the other person who has 30 seconds to accept/ decline it.
Several other online meeting applications also provide similar screen sharing ability. Such applications that have become increasingly popular since 2020 are Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Today data and software is a core component of the healthcare sector. This reliance on software has brought about new challenges. Software solutions need timely upgrades and security patches to function properly. Perhaps it may be feasible to manage the system by physically having IT support staff readily available at each site. However, the whole process can be done a lot easier using the remote management tools mentioned above. This way, the IT team can access the systems with ease and perform the necessary fixes in minimal time. No matter where they are. This is crucial in today’s work-from-home world.