Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)
- Author and member of the year 2019 – Why DevOps still doesn't rule the IT world - Wed, Jan 1 2020
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- Why Microsoft is using Windows customers as guinea pigs - Reply to Tim Warner - Tue, Dec 18 2018
Since my Remote Desktop Manager review, Devolutions released version 10.5. Before I dive deeper into Devolutions Cloud, let me mention the main new features that came with Remote Desktop Manager 10.5. RDM now supports the Devolutions Online Drive data source (discussed below), the Apple Remote Desktop, and the Intel PasswordBox. Devolutions Online Backup and Devolutions Server have been improved. For a complete list of changes, please look at the change history. You’ll notice that Devolutions constantly improves RDM.
In my previous review, I outlined the different data sources RDM supports for storing your sessions (configuration of your remote management tools). You can work with a local data source on the computer where you installed RDM, and you have various choices to store a data source remotely. You can distinguish here between Devolutions’ own options, which include Devolutions Server and third-party providers such as Amazon S3 or Dropbox.
In today’s post, I will take a closer look at some of the services of Devolutions Cloud—the Customer Portal, Online Database, Online Drive, Online Backup, and Custom Installer. The Devolutions Customer Portal is the central web-based hub where you can manage Devolutions Cloud. Devolutions Custom Installer is a solution for enterprise deployments of RDM that allows you to create custom installation packages with pre-configured data sources and serial keys. I will discuss the other three services in more detail.
Devolutions Online Backup ^
If you work intensely with Remote Desktop Manager, you invested a lot of time in adding sessions and in configuring the tool. Therefore, you want to make sure that you always back up RDM’s database. If you work with a local data source, you can do this with a desktop backup tool that allows you to restore all your settings in case your storage media gets corrupted.
However, backups are most often needed not because of hardware failures but because of operating errors. Perhaps you accidentally deleted a session that contains information that is difficult to restore, such as the password or special settings. In that case, you will need a backup that was made right before your error, and you want to restore it fast and without much hassle.
Devolutions Online Backup automatically creates a backup in the background 30 seconds after you modified the data source. It’s different from a third-party backup tool in that the backup solution is integrated in RDM, which allows for intelligent near-continuous backups. You can also start a backup manually if you made some important changes. You’ll find the Online Backup menu in RDM’s File menu.
Devolutions Online Backup - Main menu
The backup history gives you an overview of when you made changes to the data source. You can then select a certain snapshot and restore it with a simple click, and your operating error is undone.
Devolutions Online Backup - History
The configuration of the backup tool couldn’t be simpler. To activate Online Backup, you just have to click the backup icon in RDM’s bottom right corner. All you then need is a free Devolutions account and an Online Backup license key. The latter costs you $14.99 per year. That’s it. The backup icon will turn green, and your cloud backup solution is up and running.
If you work with multiple data sources you have to configure Online Backup for each data source separately. This enables you to restore data sources independently. Note that one license key is good for multiple data sources.
Online Backup is available for local data source SQLite and XML file only. For instance, you can’t back up a Devolutions Online Database with Online Backup. If you have selected a data source that can’t be backed up, the backup icon won’t appear in the bottom right corner.
Devolutions Online Drive ^
Devolutions Online Drive is not another cloud drive solution; that is, you can’t store all your files there. Devolutions Online Drive is just for one file: the RDM database.
The solution is comparable to storing your RDM database on Dropbox. That is, your database will be synced with the cloud. The main benefit of Online Drive is that you can access your RDM configuration from different computers. Online Drive is available for Windows, Mac and Android.
If you don’t use Dropbox , you can use Devolutions Online Drive, which is completely free. To add an Online Drive data source, you have to click Session in the Navigation bar and then click the green Data Sources icon. In the Data Sources toolbar, you’ll find the icon for adding a new data source. You can then either create a new account or just enter your Devolutions credentials.
The Advanced tab contains a few important security settings. You can configure RDM to always ask for the password to open the database. This feature is only supported if you use a Devolutions account other than the default cloud account that you stored in RDM.
Devolutions Online Drive - Advanced settings
In addition, you can configure a master key that you have to provide whenever you access the database from other devices. You might also want to disable the “reveal password” feature. If an attacker gains access to your Online Drive data source, he can’t access the password of your RDM sessions in clear text. If you enable offline mode, you can work with your RDM when you have no Internet connection.
After you create the Online Drive data source, you can select it in RDM’s Navigation pane. Note that, if you previously worked with another data source, your sessions and settings won’t be available in the new data source. However, you can export your sessions from your previous data source and import them to the new one. RDM also allows you to switch between multiple data sources.
Devolutions Online Drive is a good solution for syncing your RDM settings through the cloud if you don’t intend to share RDM sessions with other admins. If other admins in your organization are working with RDM, you should consider using Devolutions Online Database.
Devolutions Online Database ^
Devolutions Online Database (formerly called Remote Desktop Manager Online) comes in four different subscription levels: Free, Basic, Professional, and Enterprise. The free edition allows you to store 15 sessions, and you can’t share sessions in a team. The Basic subscription level also doesn’t support teamwork, but you can store up to 500 sessions. It costs $49.99 per year.
Aside from team features, the Professional and the Enterprise versions also enable you to store attachments in a session. For instance, you could add documentation or PowerShell scripts that admins need for their remote management tasks. The main difference between the Professional and the Enterprise subscription levels is that the latter supports connection logs. The Professional data source costs $499.99 per year, and the Enterprise version costs $999.99 per year.
The following table compares the different subscription levels.
Devolutions Online Database comparison
You create an Online Database data source in the Customer Portal. After you add the Online Database to your account, you can select the data source in RDM’s Navigation pane. Changes to your RDM configuration are immediately synced with the Online Database. In the Customer Portal, you have limited access to the sessions. You can change a session’s name, access its attachments, and connect to a session’s host.
Devolutions Online Database in the Customer Portal
If you have the Professional or the Enterprise edition of Online Database, the Customer Portal allows you to add users and security groups. The Administrator can change the privileges of each user who has access to the Online Database. For instance, you can prevent users from accessing session details or export sessions.
Adding a user in the Customer Portal
You can add users to security groups in the portal, but you need an RDM console if you want to edit a security group’s permissions. You’ll find the red icons for user and security group management in RDM if you click the Sessions root folder in RDM’s Navigation pane. The supported permissions for security groups are view, add, edit, and delete.
User and security group permissions
In addition, Remote Desktop Manager allows you to assign roles to users. An RDM role is a set of permissions.
All in all, you have quite a few options to determine what admins can do in RDM. Thus, aside from the fact that Devolutions Online Database enables you to share sessions between admins, its security management features allow you to restrict the rights of admins. This not only applies to the RDM database but also to your IT environment in general. For instance, you could allow helpdesk personnel to log on to a particular server without needing to share the corresponding password of the server.
So, which of the Devolutions Cloud services are for you? I think if you work with a local data source, Devolutions Online Drive or XML file, then Devolutions Online Backup makes a lot of sense. The $14.99 is well invested if you consider how much time it can cost you to restore an RDM database from an outdated backup of your desktop backup solution.
Devolutions Online Drive is for you if you are a lonely admin who doesn’t work in a team where RDM sessions are shared. If you want to share RDM sessions in the cloud, Devolutions Online Database is what you need. Determining whether an admin team requires the Professional or the Enterprise edition depends mostly on the number of remote machine your team has to manage. If you need connection logs that allow you to reveal when an admin connected to a certain server using RDM, you require an Enterprise subscription level.
And, if you feel uneasy about storing sensitive security information such as server passwords in the cloud, Devolutions Server would be a good choice.