By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2005-11-28 Print this article Print

Altiris Inc.s Deployment Solution 6.5 creates disk images, distributes applications, provides remote control and executes scripted jobs on a variety of operating system platforms for servers and client systems alike.

Deployment Solution 6.5, which started shipping in September, supports VMware Inc.s ESX Server server virtualization product. IT managers who are contemplating data center server consolidation should place Deployment Solution 6.5 at the top of their evaluation list.

During tests, eWEEK Labs used Deployment Solution 6.5 to quickly deploy ESX Server images to systems and then script the installation of operating systems to the virtual machines that we created on the ESX Server host.

Weve become old pros at installing ESX Server in a minimal amount of time, but Deployment Solution 6.5 basically halved installation time in our tests. Similarly, installing operating systems on the VMs took about a quarter of the time needed to accomplish the same task manually (although we are big fans of cloning VMs, which is even faster than using scripts from Deployment Solution 6.5).

Click here to read how the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics is using Altiris Deployment Solution. We recommend that IT managers weight the labor savings mentioned above more heavily than the per-managed-node license costs. Even so, Deployment Solution 6.5 for Clients has a very reasonable price of $47 per node, while the server version is $173 per node. Altogether, shops that were using manual procedures to install and update operating systems, applications and even patches will likely see substantial operating cost reductions by implementing Deployment Solution 6.5.

Altiris Deployment Solution 6.5 basically leverages its Deployment Agent on Linux to get ESX images onto systems. The scripts to start, stop and suspend VMs on the ESX host are cool, but theyre not revolutionary. Although we are enthusiastic about the VMware support—more on that in a moment—we think Deployment Solution 6.5 isnt that far ahead of competitors, including LANDesk Software Inc.s Management Suite and Symantec Corp.s Ghost Solution Suite.

To read eWEEK Labs review of VMware ESX Server, click here. Altiris Deployment Solution 6.5 is the first operating system deployment tool weve seen that goes out of its way to accommodate specific ESX Server host and VM management. We think VMwares importance in enterprise computing will only increase for the foreseeable future, and we laud Altiris for making a very good first effort to provide functionality specifically for ESX Server.

Next Page: To the test.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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