28 June 2005

Remote support

Some decisions have to be made before the mechanisms for remote support of staff computers are introduced.

For some time now the Technical Services Unit has been accessing computers remotely for maintenance: mainly for configuring servers but we have also been experimenting with managing staff desktop machines via network access. We have a number of tools available to use that allow us, for example, to log on to a Windows or Macintosh computer over the network and share the screen, mouse and keyboard with that computer.

In the case of a request for support, for example, with the permission of the client the support person can log on to the client’s computer over the network, see what is on the screen, and use their keyboard and mouse to control the client’s computer as the client watches. Combined with phone contact, this provides a very simple way for support (and dare it be said ‘just-in-time’ training or ‘at-elbow’ support) to be delivered.

Once in place, such systems also allow us to update and reconfigure computers remotely, either singly or sometimes in groups as large as, for example, ‘all PCs in the Division’.

There are a number of challenges that need to be addressed before such systems are introduced throughout the Division: security and privacy being significant issues that need to be addressed appropriately. The widespread introduction of the systems will require software installation or upgrading and changes to settings on staff computers that may involve a visit by a member of the technical staff.

With Executive support we will develop a detailed plan, including costings, to implement this approach across the Division.