Altiris Covers More Network Territory

By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2003-11-24 Print this article Print

AMS 5.7 discovers and tracks more kinds of devices, but it's expensive.

Altiris Inc.s asset management suite 5.7 features new bar-code tracking and supports network device discovery and inventory, making AMS a more comprehensive choice for tackling asset management tasks in enterprise environments.

The new add-on packages for AMS, Barcode Solution and Inventory Solution for Network Devices, substantially enhance the already-comprehensive list of asset inventory capabilities

in AMS. Although these optional packages are pricey and not crucial to the deployment of AMS, IT managers looking for ways to track more than PCs and software configurations might want to consider the additional investment.

AMS provides a centralized enterprise asset management and inventory platform for Windows environments and has strong integration with Altiris Client Management Suite and Server Provisioning Suite. At the heart of the AMS software package is Altiris Express Notification Server, which manages software installation, configuration and updates. Notification Server uses agents to communicate with clients on the network.

Altiris AMS 5.7
The latest version of AMS from Altiris boasts additional inventory and asset tracking capabilities, with network device discovery and new support for bar-code scanners. The core AMS package is priced at $30 per node, and the bar-code module is priced at $3,700 per scanning device. Because handheld scanners can cost from $1,000 to $2,000, the initial rollout expense for larger sites will be fairly high. The Inventory Solution add-on for network devices is priced starting at $15 per node.

  • PRO: Centralized asset management and inventory; new bar-code and network device discovery modules ease inventory tasks; easy to deploy and manage.

  • CON: Expensive for large sites; bar-code module supports only a handful of scanners.
    Everdreams Control Center Service Peregrine Systems AssetCenter
    AMS 5.7 shipped earlier this year and comes in two levels with different components. AMS Level 1 costs $30 per node and includes the Client Inventory and Application Metering modules. We tested AMS Level 2, which includes additional Asset Control, Contract Management and TCO modules for $9,995 per concurrent user.

    Barcode Solution costs $3,700 per bar-code scanner deployed; Inventory Solution for Network Devices is priced at $15 per device. Both add-ons shipped last month and can be downloaded from the Altiris Web site.

    In eWEEK Labs tests, we were impressed with how easy it was to use the AMS system to track assets, ensure software license compliance, deploy or update applications, and discover legacy systems that require hardware upgrades. AMS provides strong software configuration assessment capabilities that allow corporate IT managers to track software licensing and prevent conflicts with software version enforcement.

    AMS competes with solutions such as Peregrine Systems Inc.s AssetCenter and Everdream Corp.s Control Center Service, which offer comparable asset management capabilities. However, these solutions focus more on software compliance and management capabilities and on desktop asset control.

    AMS provides a more well-rounded system, especially when its bar-code and network device inventory options are added.

    In tests, we found Barcode Solution and bar-code scanners provided fast, accurate inventory data input and will be useful for companies that need a reliable way to keep track of corporate assets that are not located in a fixed spot on the network. The use of a scanner allows more accurate input of inventory data and enables IT managers to quickly discover and inventory assets such as cell phones, fax machines and even office furniture—things that normally cannot be discovered over the network.

    There are no limits to the kind of objects Barcode Solution can catalog, but the package supports only a limited number of Pocket PC 2002 handheld scanners from Symbol Technologies Inc., including the PDT8000- and the PPT2800-series scanners as well as the SPS3000 Scanner Sled. We would like to see support for Palm OS devices; Altiris officials said Palm OS devices will be supported in future updates.

    We tested Barcode Solution with a Symbol PPT2800 Pocket PC handheld scanner, which costs $1,495. With handheld scanner prices ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 and factoring in the cost of the licensing fees for AMS, it can quickly get expensive to roll out Barcode Solution at large sites. Still, we believe Barcode Solution could be a good investment for tracking network-independent devices in industries such as health care and manufacturing.

    The Setup

    Setting up AMS was fairly straightforward in our tests. Once we installed Altiris Express Notification Server on our Windows 2000 Server, we could download and install the AMS package, along with the optional add-ons, directly from the companys Web site.

    AMS runs on Windows 2000, NT, XP and 2003 systems with Intel Corp. Pentium III 800MHz or faster processors. It requires at least 512MB of memory and 20MB of hard drive space.

    AMS requires Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server 7 or SQL Server 2000 for data repository. AMS supports Microsofts SQL Server Desktop Engine, and it uses a substantial amount of system resources when running. We recommend that larger sites deploy AMS in a distributed topology with Altiris Express Notification Server and database engine running on separate servers.

    Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at


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