One of the best new features of a product was announced at CEDIA Expo 2013 this year and, in my opinion, has not yet received the credit it deserves. As everybody knows, the network is the core of the systems our industry deploys today and many integrators are looking for ways to access their networks securely from a remote location.
In fact, during a panel I was privileged to be a part of (EST044: Ask the Experts: IP & Networking All-Star Panel), one of the integrators in the crowd asked if there was a little black box that could allow his techs to VPN into systems without requiring much knowledge in setup and configuration.
Normally one would have to purchase the correct gear and have the knowledge to set up a VPN so that remote access can be achieved to any internal device on a remote network, securely. This can be cumbersome for many people especially as there are many different ways to go about this and every vendor is slightly different when it comes to setup.
While there is no “little black box” yet that can give you access to all devices internally at once, as if through a true VPN, there is now a feature on the ihiji networking appliance known as “ConnectNinja.”
ConnectNinja creates a secure tunnel between your remote computer and the device you’re trying to access. Unlike some products that have done something similar to this in the past (e.g., Cisco OnPlus), ihiji takes it a step further.
Instead of being relegated to using connections based solely off of http or https (primarily through a browser window), ihiji allows one to create a secure tunnel directly through an application such as Crestron Toolbox.
Simple to Implement
Best of all this is very easy to use. If you have an ihiji appliance you will most likely have your devices already set up and accessible via their dashboard. Connecting is as simple as double-clicking the device you’d like to access, choosing to connect via “ConnectNinja” on the side panel, and then typing in the ports you would like to access through.
Using the example of Crestron Toolbox you would enter 41795, as this is the default port to connect to a Crestron device through their app. A connection string is created which you then copy and paste into your toolbox address window and POOF! You’re in!
This is just one of the many features that ihiji offers with their appliance. Being proactive by monitoring and setting alerts on critical devices on your network is only part of it. Having the ability to remotely reboot troubled devices and now having the ability to access them through any network, whether there is a centralized VPN or not, is now just icing on the cake.
If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, just give them a call. These guys are dedicated to our industry and this feature is just one of many on the roadmap due to their respect to the questions and features our community has asked of them.
Now for the Full Disclosure
I had heard of this feature prior to showing up to CEDIA 2013 and the day before the show I began a beta test of it. I was excited to see it work because, as a network guy, I find this kind of stuff very cool. I had already decided that this would be one of the topics I would write about at CEDIA.
The reason I’m saying all this is that ihiji was giving away a “Ninja Sword” (actually a Samurai sword; Ninja swords are straight) and I had signed up for the raffle.
I joked with ihiji co-founder Michael Maniscalco that if I won the sword it would look reaaaalllllly bad. While sitting in on the incredible sounding Wisdom Audio demo I received a tweet from the other co-founder Stuart Rench telling me that yes indeed I won the sword.
They swear an unaffiliated booth lady picked my name out of a hat and they were as surprised as me. I still don’t know what to think of it but either way, the sword is pretty damn cool.
Do yourselves a favor and check out ihiji. Not because I’m being paid in swords to promote their product, but just because it may help you look like an IT ninja in front of your clients.
Yes, I was the guy walking around the show room floor, in a suit, carrying a red samurai sword. How many times in my life would I be able to do that anyway? One last side note, the security at the Hyatt across the street were NOT at all amused by it. I could just hear them in the security booth watching the cameras before coming to accost me: “Is that guy sitting at the bar holding a freaking sword?!??!”
This article originally appeared on CEPro here.