VNC in a production environment

Simon Byles simon "at" ima.org.uk
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 11:07:15 +0000


Matthew Hannigan [mailto:mha73 "at" qantas.com.au] wrote on Wednesday, July
22, 1998 11:30 PM:
>
> Does anyone on the list depend on VNC in an vital production
> context?
> 
> I am considering using VNC in production, possibly as an
> additional method for remote management of NT.

I have been using VNC in a production environment for about a month now.
I use it for exactly the purpose you are considering, remote management
of NT. 

I run a small office network with one NT server and 14 Win95 clients. As
the server is two-floors away from me and I'm too lazy (busy?) to run up
and down the stairs all day I log into the server from my client machine
with VNC. 

Once I switched off the server option Poll Full Screen (way too slow) it
worked fine. I use just a short password and have the viewer and a
shortcut with the correct command-line options in the root of the mapped
share containing the users' data. That way where-ever I am in the
building I can connect to the server in about 5 seconds.

I never leave NT logged in, or when I do I lock the console before I
look away from the vncviewer. So there's little security risk of anyone
else doing something without my knowledge. The security risks I do see
are:
* Someone watching the NT server's monitor and seeing what I'm doing.
For this reason I now leave the monitor off (no-one questions why) and I
never do anything like password changing remotely. Just things like
checking the RAS dialup connection status, running Exchange Admin, etc.
* Someone killing my connection and carrying on themselves. But I don't
imagine anyone knows how to do this and I don't have that sort of user
here. They are mostly semi-technical admin staff and wouldn't think to
try, let alone read up on how.

For the convenience for small tasks I consider the risk worth it. But
you should think carefully about:
* where your NT boxes are located
* what work you'll be doing remotely
* what sort of users you have around

> Does anyone have any comments?   In particular:
> 
> 1. Has the use of VNC ever reduced the stability of NT? For instance
> 	has it ever locked or corrupted the real console or crashed NT?

No problems here. It feels very "light" and compact on both the client
and server end. It appears to send about 300k/s and doesn't appear to
degrade the server's performance. Well no more than logging in locally
does, which of course it is doing for you. I've had no stability
problems whatsoever.

> 2. Has VNC ever not responded to a remote request (e.g. has it
> 	been known to die prematurely when run as a service)?

Not in my experience. But I've only used it about 10 mins per day for a
month. Others' mileage may vary?

> 3. Does there exist commercial support for VNC by anyone?

I think this list and the helpful contributing authors at ORL are all
there is. But then nothing could be better than free support on a free
package direct from the authors, unless it's to satisfy management. :)

I hope that helps,

Regards,

Simon.

-- 
Simon Byles 
IT Co-ordinator / Publications Officer 
The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications 
Telephone 01702 354020 

For other contact information please see our web site
http://www.ima.org.uk 

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