Empowering Your IT Team to Work Remotely: Key Considerations and Best Practices

Bob Potter •

As you continue to enable your remote workforce, it’s important to not overlook the requirements of your IT team. IT staff need secure, authorized access to key infrastructure to perform their jobs, monitor system health, and proactively address issues and alerts before they become problematic.

Securely enabling IT teams to work remotely is the first step in ensuring proper network functioning, information security, and overall business continuity for all users. During this process, you’ll want to consider the needs of all IT team members including the following:

  • Data center and IT managers who monitor IT infrastructure health (including power, cooling, and servers), troubleshoot issues, and proactively update and upgrade systems to avoid downtime
  • Development and IT operations personnel who need to provision resources, develop new solutions, and automate key tasks
  • Test engineers who need to set up and access IT environments to test new functionality before it is deployed
  • Information security staff who manage access privileges, continually monitor networks and systems for signs of unauthorized activity, and act on alerts to reduce risk

While this recent emphasis on remote workforce enablement was driven by crisis, working through this planning process will pay long-term dividends by creating business flexibility that supports continuity. It also will help your organization to enhance the work-life experience for employees and aid in employee recruitment, development and retention. Furthermore, enabling end-users to connect to systems and applications without latency and securing key assets is vital to avoiding costly unplanned downtime.

For most employees, VPN connections, Desktops as a Service, and other cloud services will enable continued productivity. However, you may have workers in specific functions who need additional capabilities. These roles could include IT administrators, data center or critical/control room managers, or others that require specialized, secure access with the ability to control the function of online applications, systems, and other digital continuity resources. Specifically, these employees may require real-time, basic input/out system (BIOS) access for hardware booting or runtime services during out-of-band management.

Solutions for Remote IT Teams

During these times when most teams are forced to work remotely, management software is essential for empowering IT teams to keep your organization running. It gives them a single point of access for tracking servers, embedded technology, power equipment, and other critical network assets.

KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switches and serial consoles are uniquely equipped to meet remote workforce challenges. KVM solutions include high-performance KVM (HPKVM), desktop KVM, KVM over IP, and secure KVM. IT teams will be well-served by KVM over IP, while teams working in highly regulated or data-sensitive industries may want to consider the added protection of secure KVM. Serial consoles are needed to deliver secure in-band and out-of-band visibility and control to downstream equipment in data centers, as well as cloud and colocation facilities. Their cellular capabilities enable IT teams to access devices when wired networks are down or not available at the device location.

Best Practices

Regardless of your industry, there are some best practice to which you should adhere when providing your IT team with secure, remote access to critical infrastructure:

  • Design redundancy and out-of-band (OOB) networking into your infrastructure for added business continuity. This would include automating failover to the OOB network in times of primary network outages and the implementation of secure, alternate pathways into systems/devices.
  • Integrate power management into an OOB management system to provide uniform access and remote outlet control.
  • Use KVM devices to back up existing remote access software solutions. One example would be to have your remote desktop protocol backed up by a switch that includes both KVM-over-IP and serial console management technology.
  • Integrate environmental monitoring along with serial console, KVM, and rack power distribution unit (rPDU) access for full view of a remote site, which will help prevent physical issues from impacting your network. This integration will track issues like overheating that causes network failure, which cannot be tracked by other means.
  • Enforce the use of central management software as the single entry point into your OOB network.
  • Use a central management tool to monitor, configure, and access IT devices and thus gain insight into the health of the entire network/IT environment.
  • Ensure IT tools have the means to interface with other systems and automate tasks. For example, use RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) on your serial consoles to automate status checks and deliver configuration updates.

Vertiv can help enable your IT teams. We have decades of experience providing secure remote access solutions and best practices to help you proactively prepare for business continuity when physical access to critical resources is restricted.

Go online to learn more about our monitoring and management solutions, talk with one of our experts at 1-866-277-1924, or read our related blog on strengthening IT infrastructure security.

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