How to use ThinMan to manage and support remote workers

2020-09-10T11:23:29+02:00September 9th, 2020|

With organizations supporting a mostly remote workforce, without the right tools it can be difficult for organizations to keep up with the challenges of supporting the distributed workforce. Supplying a remote connectivity solution is only half the battle. Managing that solution and end user clients is another aspect that your business must consider.

Praim solutions provide organizations with the tools and solutions needed to efficiently and easily carry on normal business operations, even in the face of a mostly distributed workforce working remotely. An extremely powerful component of the Praim solution is ThinMan Server.

In this post, we will take a look and see how ThinMan Server helps your organization to manage your remote endpoints whether these exist in a remote branch office or in the homes of remote workers.

What is Praim ThinMan Server?  

Praim ThinMan Server is a centralized console that allows you to manage all endpoints in the environment, whether these are Thin Clients or PCs. ThinMan Server allows the IT admin to view detailed and dynamic information on the endpoints in the environment and check or change their configurations.

Administrators can provide remote assistance to remote employees using the built-in remote features found in ThinMan Server. Additionally, lifecycle management tasks can be automated and carried out easily from ThinMan such as updating software, firmware, and creating and managing user policies.

There are two different versions of ThinMan that are available – Basic and Advanced. Basic is the free version with the ability to manage a few endpoints with limited functionality. ThinMan Advanced is the version of ThinMan that includes the ability to manage production environments with many different endpoints, scaling up and automating all the management tasks to an unlimited number of devices.

New ThinMan Server Advanced Edition and Latest Features

New with the ThinMan Server Advanced Edition, Praim has introduced new subscription-based licensing as well as three new feature packs that allow tweaking and customizing ThinMan Server for the needs of your business. Let’s take a closer look at these three new feature packs.

  • Network+ – With the Network+ feature pack, organizations get the features needed for complex network cases with remote offices or when dealing with limited bandwidth to serve them.
  • Admin+ – The Admin+ feature pack is great for those who need high reliability and even more advanced security options.
  • User+ – The User+ pack provides modern access policies with advanced user profile customizable to support the more various corporate use cases.

Praim has also made many improvements in terms of performance and security of the platform.  ThinMan Server since version 8.1.0 is now available as a 64-bit system. Organizations can install ThinMan Server on 64-bit Windows platforms on-premises and in the cloud.

The new 64-bit offering allows managing an unlimited number of endpoints from a single ThinMan Server installation across many different locations. In terms of security, the new 64-bit architecture has advantages as well. Since ThinMan Server can now take advantage of the larger memory address space, it can take advantage of native Windows mechanisms to protect the system and applications such as the Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR).

Praim has also greatly improved the network architecture of the platform by introducing the Web Socket Secure connection. Now, the connection to the server only needs the TCP 443 SSL port open to the outside world. This makes configuring network connectivity to your ThinMan Server extremely easy.

Using ThinMan Server to manage and support remote workers

ThinMan Server provides many great capabilities that allow organizations to manage and support remote workers amid the global pandemic. These capabilities include:

  • Managing endpoints
  • Easily performing updates on remote endpoints
  • Providing remote troubleshooting
  • Monitoring
  • Linking the environment to Active Directory
  • *New* Monitoring VDI sessions/users active

Architecturally, Praim has streamlined the design of how ThinMan communicates with endpoints. As mentioned above, you now only need TCP port 443 open to communicate between ThinMan and your managed thin clients. For organizations with remote branch offices, Praim provides the ThinMan Gateway to streamline operations for the local remote branch office, without the need of managing VPN connections.

The ThinMan Gateway provides many benefits for your organization, including the following:

  • Maintains the simple port 443 design of communicating with branch offices.
  • Allows optimizing the distribution of updates so WAN traffic is much more efficient. The Repository Replica feature allows storing firmware updates locally on the ThinMan Gateway server.
  • Wake on LAN (WOL) relay, to control from remote (the centralized ThinMan server) the power management policies in remote branches.
  • It is available as installable software on your local server, as a virtual appliance, or hardware appliance with industrial reliability standard.

Below, deploying the ThinMan Gateway using the virtual appliance makes provisioning the solution extremely easy.

ThinMan Gateway deploy

Deploying the ThinMan Gateway virtual appliance

Organizations can leverage both the Web Secure Socket technology and the Thinman Gateway depending on the use case for supporting remote workers.

  • Web Socket Secure – Provides connectivity for distributed remote workers, working from home
  • ThinMan Gateway – Provides efficient connections for remote branch office locations including the ability to efficiently manage a large number of remote devices at a branch location
ThinMan remote assistance

ThinMan Server allows easily managing the ThinMan Gateway installations

Endpoint Management

ThinMan Server allows fully managing the client endpoints, even those that are located in the homes of remote workers.  IT operations has a multitude of tools and options available at their fingertips for all endpoints they are managing.

As you can see from the context menu in managing a device, there are options for remote assistance, power on/off, and other functions.

ThinMan makes troubleshooting thin clients extremely easy. Along with the remote assistance feature, administrators can also receive log files from the device using the functionality in ThinMan Server to automatically pull those from the thin client.

Additionally, administrators can personalize the remote thin client by configuring the screen saver as well as wallpaper of the thin client device.

ThinMan remote assistance

ThinMan provides the ability to interact with all the remote thin clients including remote assistance

Streamlined Management

Another great aspect of ThinMan Server is that it allows administrators to save the configuration of a thin client device as a template. This configuration template can then be assigned to other devices via a Configuration Profile. To do this, administrators configure the settings on the template device as they want. This includes network, user interface, firmware, security, printers, and control panel settings.

Configuration settings remote thin clients

Defining configuration settings for remote thin clients

Then, the configuration is simply pulled from the remote thin client, saved as a template, and imported to a configuration profile.

Offline configuration

Receiving the offline configuration from a device

The device configuration is saved as a template so it can be used with a configuration profile that allows standardizing the configuration across the devices of all remote workers.

Configuration template

Saving a device configuration template

Configuration profiles can be assigned to groups of devices classified by the Administrators or based on automathic rules (e.g. depending from the subnetwork to which the endpoint belongs to, the device type of the endpoint or other parameters).

Authentication

With the User+ feature pack, ThinMan Server gives you the tools for many different authentication mechanisms and security implementations. The first of these is the ability to enable authenticating users with the company Active Directory infrastructure via LDAP connectivity. This allows linking the ThinMan login with your Active Directory.

LDAP servers configuration

Configuring LDAP servers in ThinMan Server to authenticate user ThinMan sessions with AD

 

ThinMan Advanced with User+ also supports the integration with multiple Active Directory (i.e it supports at the same time multiple domains) enabling the implementation of complex use cases (such as merging of different organizations or the management of subsidiary companies).

With the Smart Identity mechanism, administrators can configure the use of smart cards as well as smart cards plus passwords or PINs.  This allows a robust, secure, and efficient login mechanism for quickly logging into the ThinMan environment with a smart card.

Enabling Smart Identity

Enabling Smart Identity configuration in ThinMan Server

Other ThinMan Server Tools

ThinMan Server allows administrators to have tremendous visibility into remote environments.  This also includes visibility into VDI sessions. New with ThinMan 8.1.1 and newer, ThinMan Server provides details on VDI sessions/users active on various devices and the ability to search for specific users, to provide assistance to the right endpoint.

This will allow having visibility into your VDI environments all from within the same console and centralized management that ThinMan Server provides.

Wrapping Up

Managing devices for the remote workforce in remote branch office environments as well as employees working from home can be challenging using traditional tools.  With the holistic approach of ThinMan Server, organizations have visibility and control over all aspects of the remote environment.

Administrators can effectively and easily manage devices, perform updates, remote troubleshooting, and streamline configurations using the configuration profiles. Management, configuration and update of the infrastructure are automated and scaled up to an unlimited number of endpoints. Additionally, it makes streamlining authentication much easier by providing an easy way to tie in remote workers with Active Directory and the ability to use Smart Cards for authentication.

Using ThinMan Server helps to streamline operations and processes for helpdesk teams who may already be stretched thin due to the shift to a largely remote workforce. The new features in the latest versions of ThinMan help to extend the reach of the platform and give administrators even more tools to successfully support the remote workforce.

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