Infrastructure and end-user management tools go a long way toward enabling a relatively small number of IT staffers to service large numbers of users and far-flung networked devices. Because of the wide variety of equipment and applications used in networks, this category included more entries than almost any other.
The two finalists that didnt make it into the winners circle are excellent products but tilt toward a stovepipe approach to IT management in a terrain that remains spectacularly heterogeneous.
IBMs ImageUltra takes a unique approach to initial desktop distribution: Load everything supported by the corporate standardfrom the operating system to applicationsonto a laptop or desktop. Then ship it out to the end user, who makes a few simple choices and gets a functioning computer. The catch is that it is currently available only on IBM equipment.
NetIQs Administration Suite 1.0 is a powerful management tool for distributing management tasks associated with Active Directory, Exchange and Windows NT resources to staff outside IT. In the final analysis, the product slipped from first place because it supports only Microsoft Corp. products.
The winner in this category, Dirig Softwares Fenway 1.1, is a sterling example of a product designed for the reality of corporate IT. Fenway monitors a variety of Unix, Windows NT/2000 and Linux Web servers and provides notifications and root-cause analysis of transaction failures. This information, along with Fenways flexibility, made it a clear choice. Cameron Sturdevant