• United States
Executive Editor

Funk eases remote-control installations

Aug 04, 20033 mins
Data Center

Funk Software is cutting down on the amount of firewall reconfiguration that customers have to perform in order to use its venerable remote-control software.

The company’s Proxy 4.1 version now supports TCP/IP and User Datagram Protocol/IP, not just UDP/IP, the protocol that the software has supported since 1993. This makes it possible to start remote-control sessions via the common TCP Port 1505, which in most cases requires no changes to firewall parameters.

While the company says user demand drove the TCP/IP support and that it helps boost security, it also comes with a downside. Customers manually have to input the names or addresses of the remote host machines when they use the TCP option. With UDP, they can broadcast a poll and remote hosts respond, filling the address book of the master machine.

That might be a good trade-off, says Charles Melidosian, vice president and CIO of real estate services company Baird & Warner in Chicago, which uses Proxy as a help desk/training tool for 35 branch offices. “We might tweak the ports left open [in our firewall] and change them to uncommon ports to make it more resistant to port scanning,” he says.

The company also has added features that make common uses of the software simpler. Proxy now allows clipboard transfer from master to host and vice versa. Baird & Warner used to copy error dialog boxes from remote machines into text files and then e-mail those files to vendors to help solve problems. Now they can be cut and pasted, saving time, Melidosian says.

The new version allows transfer of a series of files or an entire directory and its subdirectories all at once rather than one file at a time as in Proxy’s earlier versions. “Before what would happen is you’d miss a folder,” he says.

Proxy competes against Symantec’s pcAnywhere and Computer Associates’ Control IT, among others. The company acknowledges that it is adding features aggressively to catch up.

The new version supports screen blanking, so the host monitor doesn’t display what the remote administrator is doing, thereby preventing the user on the host machine from trying to undo what the administrator has done, the company says.

Funk also has added a graphical tool to shut off unnecessary visual effects that eat up bandwidth, such as wallpaper, screen savers and mouse shadowing. Eliminating these features during remote-control sessions reduces the amount of data that has to be sent over the wire to the master machine, effectively speeding response time, Funk says. Proxy had this feature before, but it required manually changing registry keys.

Proxy 4.1 addresses some known problems with earlier versions, such as interference between Proxy and Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS) agents. The two applications vied for the same resources, so Proxy made no connection or failed to install. So in Version 4.1, Funk rewrote Proxy to run alongside SMS without interfering.

A release of the software scheduled for later this year will add a GUI for auto-deploying Proxy and Proxy updates.

Proxy 4.1 costs $2,200 for a 100-host license.