Application Deployment Featured Article

NEI Addresses Maintaining an Appliance for a Lifetime

December 08, 2009


Until recently, it might have been acceptable to swap out a perfectly good box for another one with a newer version of an application. Now, it's seen as economically and ecologically wasteful.
But even for mindful OEMs, upgrading and maintaining an appliance over the course of a lifetime is a huge concern. Questions that pop up include: Will maintenance require a lot of on-site visits by the appliance manufacturer’s field technicians? Or, will the IT department have to assign junior techs to learning and navigating the new technology?
NEI addresses this challenge in a recently published white paper, “Top Five Considerations for Deploying Next-Gen Appliances.”
According to NEI, which recently unveiled new enhancements to its Element Manager 3.0, the availability of “smart” services helps developers more easily build secure, hardened solutions that deliver on the promise of low-lifecycle maintenance. NEI Element Manager 3.0, first released in June, is a complete, lightweight supervisory and alarming console that’s used to monitor the appliance health, automate alarming and updates, deploy OS and application patches, schedule backups and restore field-deployed appliances.
The upgraded version’s “Smart Task Manager” -- which reduces end-user maintenance requirements by predefining and scheduling cleanup, archive and backup tasks -- allows the end user to adjust schedule times and define the location to archive files on the local network, according to the Canton, Mass.-based company.
“In the past, when you added significant new features you were at a stage where you had to swap out hardware,” Mike Slattery, director of software development for NEI, told TMCnet.
These days, appliances have a larger capacity, and bigger memory, which means doing regular software updates today is even more critical.
“Getting field technicians to do [updates] is labor intensive,” Slattery said, noting that learning a new operating system requires a steep investment, time wise, which could be spent elsewhere.
With systems like NEI’s Element Manager, this is not the case, Slattery said. Because the EM can be operated remotely, “you can get out of that ‘site visit’ mode. It’s a more efficient use of resources.”
This is the third article in a series addressing the most crucial considerations for deploying next-generation appliances.

Marisa Torrieri is a TMCnet Web editor, covering IP hardware and mobility, including IP phones, smartphones, fixed-mobile convergence and satellite technology. She also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet's gadgets and satellite e-Newsletters. To read more of Marisa's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri

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