The application was developed as a way for network administrators to manage Mac systems through an Apple Computer Inc. Mac. Although one might assume that this ability would be a given, often companies have to use Windows-based systems for network management, said Coby Gurr, product line manager for the LANDesk Management suite.
"It does seem surprising that this type of support wasnt seen earlier," he said. "But then, until the release of Tiger, there were many issues that needed to be addressed for providing this kind of capability."
The suite provides software distribution, inventory support and patch management for Macs, Microsoft Corp.s Windows, Windows XP, Windows CE, Linux, Unix, RIM and Palm.
More likely, LANDesk will face some competition from FileWave International Holding AG, which provides software distribution and management as well as operating system upgrades and centralized security update capability.
But where LANDesk may pull away from the pack is with its ability to provide network management on Windows and Macs in a heterogeneous environment.
Thats what appealed to Daniel VanDay, LAN desk administrator at Tufts University in Massachusetts, who has been a beta tester for the program for over a year.
Although Tufts has a centralized technical group, each department has its own administrator. Because some departments use Macs, VanDay formerly had to force them to use Windows-based systems for management, which was not a popular tactic for Mac admins.
"We had to run two systems in some departments, and it wasnt making some people happy," VanDay said. "The ability to manage a system in the way that you want is very advantageous."
LANDesk plans to emphasize the suites management breadth. Since many IT environments have a mix of systems and platforms, Gurr said he believes that the product will be well received.
"We focused on providing a suite that can let you manage everything, no matter if its Linux or Mac or even a handheld platform," Gurr said.