Control Actions

Monitoring solutions often provide the ability to alert an administrator over email, pager, SMS, etc., when problems occur. In response to an alert, the administrator has to perform domain-specific detailed analysis of the problem, often by running different commands on the target system. In this process, the administrator has to figure out and initiate corrective measures. Most monitoring solutions provide remote problem alerting capability, but the ability to remotely login in a secure manner and perform detailed analysis and troubleshooting is not available. To allow true anytime, anywhere management capability, such remote control of the target IT infrastructure must be possible using a web browser.

eG’s Remote Control Action capability allows an administrator to remotely and securely access any monitored server in an IT infrastructure and to execute remote commands in order to perform detailed analysis of problems and to initiate corrective actions against them.

The benefits of eG’s remote control actions are:

  • Enable remote control in addition to routine monitoring, thereby offering a quick and easy way of initiating corrective actions
  • Remote diagnosis and control of any component in the monitored infrastructure is enabled from anywhere, using just a web browser
  • Remote control capability is selectively enabled for users based on their access rights

The control actions are enabled with no change in the eG architecture. The agents do not listen on any TCP ports. Hence, security risks in the target environment are minimum. Furthermore, since control actions can be initiated from a web browser, they can be triggered from anywhere, at any time.

To understand this concept better, consider the example of a web server shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 : A web server indicating a problem in the Windows Service layer

Figure 1 indicates that the World Wide Web Publishing service of a web server has stopped running and hence, the web server is not available. Starting this service in the web server host will solve this problem. For this, you will not be required to manually access the host and start the WWW service in it.

Instead, simply click on the (Remote Control) button indicated by Figure 1. Upon clicking, a page depicted by Figure 2 will appear.

Figure 2 : A page displaying the IP/nickname of the host to be controlled and current mode of the agent

This page will display the Agent IP/Nickname (192.168.10.173) to be controlled remotely and the current Mode of Operation of the agent. Figure 2 indicates that the Mode Of Operation of the agent on the host is waiting. By default, an eG agent is in the Normal mode. No remote action can be performed on a host when the agent is in this mode. To start remote control activities, the agent has to be moved into a control mode. The waiting mode is a transition mode between the Normal and Control modes. An agent remains in this state for a very short time, and finally changes to the Control mode. Once the agent switches to the control mode, Figure 3 will appear, wherein you need to specify the command to be executed remotely on the agent host. 

Figure 3 displays the Agent IP/Nickname of the host and its current Mode Of Operation. To execute a command, specify the following:

  1. From the Command list box, select the command to be executed remotely. By default, the Command list contains a set of pre-configured, ready-to-use commands. If the command to be executed is already available in the Command list, select it, and specify the Arguments (if any), that may be supported by the chosen command (see Figure 3). In our case however, the command for starting the WWW service does not pre-exist. We are hence faced with the following options:

    1. First, add the command for starting the WWW service to the Command list (using the Agents -> Settings -> Remote Control menu sequence in the eG administrative interface), and then select that command from the Command list, OR,
    2. Directly issue the command for starting the WWW service using the remote control page.
  2. If you opt for (a), then follow the procedure discussed in this manual.
  3. If you pick option (b), you need to first check whether you are authorized to execute a remote command that is outside of the Command list. By default, only the admin user has the right to directly execute a command on the agent host. To grant such a right to any other user(s), follow the steps given below:

    • Edit the eg_controls.ini file in the <eg_install_dir>\manager\config directory
    • In the [control_defaults] section of the file, you will find an AllowOtherCommands parameter that is set to admin, by default. This indicates that, by default, only the admin user is privileged to execute commands other than the ones listed in the Commands list.
    • To extend that right to other users, specify a comma-separated list of user names against the AllowOtherCommands parameter:

      AllowOtherCommands=admin,john,elvis,brian

    • Finally, save the eg_controls.ini file.
  4. Once the right is granted to you, you can proceed to directly execute an 'unregistered' remote command by selecting the Other option from the Command list, and providing the Command description (i.e., the syntax of the command) (see Figure 4).

    Figure 3 : Directly issuing the command to be executed

  5. In our example, the command which will start the WWW service is net start W3SVC, where W3SVC is the service name of the World Wide Web Publishing service. Therefore, against Command description, specify this command.
  6. Then, set the value of Output required to Yes to view the output of the specified command. Otherwise, select No.
  7. Then, enter the Timeout period. This is the duration for which the eG manager will wait for an output for the specified command. Upon the expiry of the period, the command execution will be automatically terminated.
  8. Finally, execute the command by clicking the execute button in Figure 4.
  9. If Output required is set to Yes, then you will view the output of the executed command (see Figure 4).

    Figure 4 : Output of the specified command

  10. Once the command executes successfully, the WWW service will be started, automatically resolving the problem reported by the Windows Service test (see Figure 5).

    Figure 5 : The Windows Service test problem is resolved

    Note:

    An agent will remain in the Control mode for 10 minutes, after which, it will return to the Normal mode.

This simple example highlights the utility of eG Enterprise’s control actions capability.

The eG monitor interface also allows users to view the different eG agents and their modes of operation. To do so, select the Remote Control option from the Options menu of the eG monitor interface.

The resulting page (see Figure 6) lists the agents in the Control mode.

Figure 6 : eG agents in the Control mode

Note that the agent on 192.168.10.173 in our example appears here. Clicking on the displayed agent will lead users to the page depicted by Figure 7, using which specific actions can be performed on the host. To search for a particular agent host, specify the whole/part of the IP/nickname of the host in the Agent IP / Nickname text box, and then, click the right arrow button (see Figure 6) next to it. All agents with IPs/nick names that embed the specified search string will then appear in this page.

Now, if you select Normal from the Agents mode text box in Figure 6, then all the agents in the Normal mode will be displayed (see Figure 6).

Figure 7 : Agents in the Normal mode

Clicking on an agent displayed in this page (see Figure 7) will first lead users to the waiting mode (see Figure 2); once the transition is successful, then the control mode page (see Figure 7) appears. Similarly, if you select Waiting from the Agents mode list box, then all the agents in the Waiting mode will appear. Clicking on the agent displayed here will lead users to Figure 7 directly.