Over these past few months since I joined Cireson after 22 years at Microsoft, I’ve been asked why I would leave Microsoft for a company that does nothing in the Configuration Manager space. Well, that’s not entirely true – Cireson does have an app that extracts information from Configuration Manager to use for more complete, in-depth, asset management than Configuration Manager provides natively. And Cireson Consulting Services has a staff of very strong consultants who can help customers with all of the various System Center components, including Configuration Manager. But one of the reasons I was brought onboard at Cireson was to help them extend the reach of their Configuration Manager offerings.

We’ve already started that with more consulting opportunities for Configuration Manager, as well as conducting training courses on Configuration Manager. However what a lot of people have been looking for out of Cireson since I joined has been Configuration Manager specific apps. Well, for those of you, the wait is over! Cireson is now pleased to offer a new app that can help your Configuration Manager administrators, as well as Help Desk – the Remote Manage app! This is the first of many yet to come apps from Cireson, targeted to all of you who are using Configuration Manager. And the best of all, this initial app is FREE!

At a high level, the Remote Manage app provides a remote console that can assist with remote analysis and troubleshooting of Configuration Manager clients. There is no need to start the Configuration Manager Console, no need to establish a Configuration Manager Remote Control session, no need to launch Report Manager to view information about a specific client. You can accomplish all these tasks, and more, using the Remote Manage app.

Requirements for installation of the tool

There are a few requirements that must be implemented on the computer that the tool is to be installed on before that installation can be successful. The Remote Manage app works on both Configuration Manager 2007 as well as Configuration Manager 2012 (all releases). The specific requirements are:

  • RSAT must be installed on the computer that is running the Remote Manage app. The specific component that must be installed is “Group Policy Management”, which in Server Manager is a separate Feature
    • Note that the Remote Manage app can be installed without Group Policy Management being enabled on the host computer, however you will not be able to launch “Group Policy” as a tool unless it is enabled on the host computer
  • Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5.1

Requirements to connect to a remote client

In order to use the Remote Manage app to remotely manage client computers, there are also a few requirements on the clients:

  • Microsoft .Net Framework 4.5.1
  • Remote management through Windows Remote Management 3.0 (or later) must be enabled and allowed through the Firewall
  • Appropriate remote access allowed through the Firewall, such as Remote Event Log Management, depending on the features desired from the tool

Installation of the Remote Manage app

Installation is very simple – simply run the Remote Manage app Setup.exe – and walk through the wizard. Of course, you need to first download the app J You can download it from the Cireson app store at: need URL embedded here for the download

Once downloaded, simply unzip the download, and run the setup utility:

install

The default installation path for the Remote Manage app is C:\Program Files (x86)\Cireson\Remote Manage app, although you are prompted during the installation as to where to install the tool. The actual tool executable is called “ConfigMgrClientTools.exe”.

Launching the Remote Manage app

Once installed on a client or server computer, the Remote Manage app is very easy to launch. Simply find the installed app in your list of installed apps, and launch it:

app

If you launch the Remote Manage app without any command line parameters, the Remote Manage app user interface appears as below. You will then need to specify the remote computer to connect to (the “Client”) as well as the SMS Provider computer to connect to (the “Site”). You can do so by simply clicking in the boxes after “Client” and “Site”:

install2

You can also launch the Remote Manage app with command line parameters that will specify the remote client and the SMS Provider computers to connect to. Those switches are:

ConfigMgrClientTools.exe client smsprovider

Where client is the name of the target Configuration Manager client to remotely manage, and smsprovider is the name of a computer running the SMS Provider in the site.

The SMS Provider computer is remembered, so once supplied, either via command line or the user interface, it is written to the Registry, and will automatically be connected to upon future activations of the Remote Manage app.

When you attempt to connect to a client, you may encounter the following message:

install3

If so, it may very well be online, and the issue may be that Windows Remote Management (WinRM) has not been configured to allow connections. The easy way to configure that is via:

Winrm quickconfig

After running this command, and allowing the requested configurations to be saved, you will be able to connect to the client:

install4

Managing Clients with the Remote Manage app

Once you have connected to a client, you will notice a lot of very valuable information is displayed in the Remote Manage app user interface. What information appears, and the actions that are available to you, depend on the tab that is accessed. The default tab is the “Actions & Tools” tab. On it you will notice (refer to the previous screen shot for a visual view of the information provided below):

  • About – this will display the version of the Remote Manage app as well as license information
  • Client Actions – this area lists some of the common actions that you would want to remotely run on the connected client computer, including policy retrieval and initiating inventory cycles
  • Client Tools – this are lists some of the common tools that you will want to remotely use on the connected client, such as connecting to its log folder, and initiating a Configuration Manager client repair
  • Device Collections – this area displays the collections that the client is a member of, as well as allowing you to add the client to another collection via a direct membership rule (note that you can also remove the client from an existing collection if it is a member through a direct membership rule)
  • Device Information – this area displays basic information about the computer, including its IP address, top console user, and operating system information
  • Logging – the bottom area of the user interface displays logging information for the Remote Manage app, so that you can see what commands were initiated to connect to the client, initiate actions, and the results

If you click the “Installed Software” tab, you will be able to view the installed software on the client computer. You can search for products by name to filter the list down to what you are interested in viewing. This view would be very similar to the Control Panel installed programs view. After selecting a product, you can initiate an uninstall or repair action on that product.