Getting Started with Bomgar

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2009-01-13 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bomgar's remote support appliance eliminates many of the worries associated with security, remote access and remote control in one convenient package.

Installation of the product is relatively straightforward, but there are a few caveats. Bomgar sent over a device for testing, which is simply a 1U rack-mountable server. Installers are offered several installation scenarios. Surprisingly, the most recommended scenario is to install the appliance outside of the corporate firewall, at the edge of the network. Bomgar argues that this approach makes installation as simple as possible and makes access to the device very simple. Of course, that does open the device up to attacks, but Bomgar has locked down all the ports on the system to prevent anything from happening, and all communication with the unit is done using SSL.

For each installation, Bomgar builds a custom software package, which hard-codes in the URL of the box (which must be a registered URL with full DNS resolution) among other things. It seems more than likely Bomgar does that to protect its software from piracy, as opposed to improving the purchaser's experience.

The unit can be used with a dynamic DNS provider, as long as there is a static URL associated with the provider. We set up the system using that configuration, but when using dynamic DNS or a dynamic external IP address, the device must be installed inside the corporate firewall or router. It would be a nice touch if Bomgar added a dynamic DNS client to the box, to eliminate those additional configuration hassles. That should be a relatively simple task, as dynamic DNS providers such as TZO, DyDns and many others are already working with router vendors to build custom code for support in those devices.

In our test, we set the device up inside of our firewall, which was running the TZO dynamic DNS service, and then forwarded the appropriate ports to a static, internal IP address. That way, any requests from the outside on ports 80 or 442 were redirected to the Bomgar Box.

By installing the unit using this method, we were able to better secure inbound traffic and were also able to implement additional features on our firewall, such as preventing attacks, intrusions and other maladies from being attempted on the Bomgar device. It is also worth noting that more and more satellite offices and smaller VARs do not have external static IP addresses at their locations and are forced to rely on dynamic DNS. Bomgar really does need to take that into consideration, especially with its SMB-focused B200 device.


 

 

Once the unit is up and running, installers have a plethora of integration and customization options. Installers can customize the support portal, to lend a corporate identity to the device. Larger sites may want to integrate the device into Active Directory to eliminate the need to create additional technician accounts.

Customization can also be applied to the client application, as well as how sessions are initiated. In addition, installers can control the post-support experience, where customers can be asked to fill out a survey or receive a complete transcript of the session, along with a Flash-based video of the session.

Maintenance of the unit is quite simple; an administrative console allows administrators to quickly create accounts, change IP addresses, back up settings, download updates and monitor the system. Integrated reporting gives further insight into the use and status of the device.

In practice, Bomgar’s unit proves to be a very powerful solution and surpasses most any hosted solution on the market. Remote support is simple with the unit as well as creating a distributed support environment. Since technicians can log into the device from anywhere that has a Web connection and customers can be supported over a Web connection, the device has the potential to create virtual support teams and teleworker-based support staffs. That could save a great deal of money for many MSPs and enterprise environments.

Pricing varies based upon the number of licenses, number of concurrent users (technicians) and number of concurrent sessions to be supported. SMB markets can get involved in most cases for well under $5,000, which is not overly expensive when one considers that the Bomgar unit is a physical device that is owned by the purchaser. The unit will quickly pay for itself and should easily prove more economical than hosted services.

 


 
 
 
 
Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com
 
 
 
 
 
























 
 
 
 
 
 

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