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APAC firms pass on remote admin via phones

Businesses in Asia have yet to warm to using mobile phones to perform systems administration tasks remotely, according to industry observers.

Businesses based in Asia have not yet warmed up to the idea of remote management of IT systems via mobile devices, according to industry watchers.

Vikram Chandna, head of desktop practice and alliances at Wipro Technologies' infrastructure management services unit, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that the company has "yet to see any substantial practical application" for mobile-based systems administration. The same can be said for Wipro's customers, he added.

"One reason we reckon for the low adoption is that…the [systems administration] tools are typically installed at the offshore delivery centers or at remote monitoring and support centers, like Wipro's Global Command Center," he said, noting that the constantly-changing set of human resources at the remote delivery site tends to discourage adoption of such tools.

Chandna added that the use of mobile phones for systems administration tasks is still "niche" and should take about three to five years to become more mainstream.

Over at systems integrator NCS, all remote systems administration is performed on notebooks and desktops. In an e-mail, Bok Hai Suan, NCS' director of corporate information systems, said that industry acceptance of remote systems administration on mobile platforms appears to be "on the rise".

Using handhelds to perform system administration has its advantages, Bok pointed out. Mobile phones can provide a faster response time which is critical during an emergency, and it allows system administrators the ability to address issues that crop up outside of working hours, without having to be in the office.

On the other hand, mobile screens may prove prohibitive, in comparison to PC counterparts. "The screen size of mobile devices today may be too small for comfort to input command line instructions, although GUI (graphical user interface) windows may still be manageable."

In addition, mobile devices lack the "additional layer of physical security" that workstations in an office environment are subject to, said Bok. The form factor also calls for greater care in managing access control as it provides an additional avenue for "disgruntled or careless system administrators" to remotely interrupt or shut down networks.

Outside of Asia, there have been positive experiences with remote administration using smartphones. Scott Lowe, CIO at Westminster College in Missouri, the United States, and blogger for TechRepublic, ZDNet Asia's sister site, described in a recent blog post how he used his Apple iPhone to perform server administration during a particular upgrade task.