Managing remote computing resources
August 9, 2007 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I need a good tool for monitoring remote wondows machines

At work, we have a bank of 5 high performance machines to run computationally intensive simulations. These machines run XP Pro 64. Our desk machines run XP (32) Pro. We typically access these machines by logging in via remote desktop (which only one person at a time can do). Alternatively, we can run the GUI locally on our desk machines, but run the solver process remotely, which doesn't require logging in, and therefore mutliple people can do simultaneously on the same machine.

Many of our sims are small enough that several can run at once. Some are large enough that they take all the resources. This all requires a lot of coordination for our team: who's logged in to what machine, are there enough resources available to run another simuation remotely, etc.

I would like a tool that easily monitors the CPU and memory usage of mutiple remote machines, and tells me who is currently logged in to what machine. Ideally, this would be a lightweight application that could run in the background, perhaps sitting in the system tray, with an easy to read interface showing me all the info I want at a glance

I have tried Remote Task Manager, and it falls short in several ways: you can monitor only one remote machine at a time, there is no easy way to see who's currently logged in, and it has a clunky interface - way too much detail spread over too many tabs.

Is there a better tool out there for what I want to do?

Additionally, If I am logged in to a machine and want all the resources dedicated to the sim I'm running, can I deny other users the ability to run remote solver processes? Is there a simple apllication that automates this process? Everyone involved is an administrator on all remote machines.
posted by jpdoane to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
You could use Sitescope, which is made for remote agentless server monitoring. It would show you a (web-based) chart of server resources (like CPU, memory, disk perf, etc.) per machine. But that's probably more than you need, and it would cost money. Or you could use MOM, which is the offical Microsoft solution, but is almost certainly overkill for you.

Alternately, you could just leave perfmon.exe open looking at the set of remote performance counters that's interesting to you (you can save a list of counters that you want to appear as a template and load it on demand later). Easy, but not very elegant.

Or, if you want to invest a little dev effort, performance counters are easy to access programmatically via .NET or WMI. I imagine you can retreive a list of logged-on users that way as well. Once you have the code for that (of which there are numerous samples online), it should be easy to display the result in a window, or a tray icon, or a console app, etc.
posted by molybdenum at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2007

Response by poster: I was considering writing a .NET app if I couldn't find anything available - glad to know it should be relatively straightforward.

Also, a non-free solution is okay.
posted by jpdoane at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2007

Best answer: works with snmp and is easy to set up.
posted by rhizome at 2:03 PM on August 9, 2007

Can't you use the built-in tool, perfmon? Seems like this is one of the best uses for it.
posted by Four Flavors at 3:37 PM on August 9, 2007

snmp stuff? i second the suggestion of cacti. also, nagios or mrtg. has some examples.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:57 PM on August 9, 2007

I can't stop raving about how excellent TheDude is! It's made by Mikrotic, completely free and offers a realtime updated visual representation of your network and all attached devices.

If you install SNMP services on your client computers you can monitor hundreds of settings and have them all update and alert you via e-mail (or SMS via a gateway).

Google for Mikrotik TheDude. :)
posted by rc55 at 5:13 PM on August 9, 2007

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