By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2005-03-07 Print this article Print

LANDesk Software Inc.s latest offering, LANDesk Server Manager 8.5, builds on the companys already rock-solid desktop management tools, adding a small footprint and an on-demand agent that places almost no burden on the managed servers.

eWEEK Labs tests show LANDesk Server Manager 8.5, which became available in January, provides a slew of fine-tuned utilities that should come in handy for data centers that use Windows or Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux. These improved components include remote control, patch management, software distribution and asset inventory. The sensible combination of useful tools—a LANDesk hallmark—should ease many system management chores without adding a lot of training time.

We used LANDesk Server Manager 8.5, which is priced at $299 per managed server, to ably manage systems running Windows 2000, Windows 2003 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. However, LANDesk officials would not comment specifically on plans to support other operating systems.

LANDesk Server Manager 8.5 also gains an on-demand vulnerability assessment tool. In our tests, the tool worked better on Windows systems but, nonetheless, provided satisfactory information for the Red Hat systems, too.

IT managers should keep an eye on "vulnerability assessment" tools that are part of product suites. Although we got good results with the LANDesk Server Manager 8.5 on-demand vulnerability assessment, weve noticed a marked rise in vendors repurposing all manner of tools into vulnerability assessment utilities.

Click here to read more about LANDesks vulnerability assessment tool. At the end of our assessment, the heart and soul of LANDesk Server Manager 8.5 turned out to be in the smallest parts of the product—the newly revised software agents that are installed on every managed server. Unlike the LANDesk desktop product, LANDesk Server Manager agents use only server resources when they perform a task. Otherwise, the agents lie practically dormant on the system, waiting for a call from the central management console to perform an action, such as system inventory.

Our tests showed that LANDesk Server Manager 8.5s management agents—akin to the CBAs (Common Base Agents) that have been used for years in LANDesks desktop management products—will not cause memory leaks or introduce instability into the managed server.

We set up reports that summoned the on-demand agents for all sorts of information, from hardware and software inventory to memory utilization. Our schedules were far more demanding than any operations centers would be, and the agents did not cause one instance of downtime or application conflict.

IT managers should always initially install a product like LANDesk Server Manager 8.5 in a test environment first. This general best practice will also allow system administrators to become familiar with the LANDesk Server Managers operation.

We like LANDesk Server Manager 8.5s approach to system management because it places so little burden on the managed system. During our tests, even when the agents were active, they were quite good at using only a minimum of CPU cycles and memory.

The LANDesk Server Manager uses an Intel-only management specification that allowed us to provide out-of-band management with very little additional effort. The IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) made it possible for us to handle some remote management tasks, including power cycling systems that had Intel processors.

For shops that have IPMI-capable systems, the remote management features of LANDesk Server Manager should be a compelling check-off item. LANDesk Server Manager supports both Version 1.5 and the recently ratified Version 2.0.

For more about the IPMI specification, click here. In tests, the IPMI capabilities of LANDesk Server Manager nicely augmented the in-depth hardware and software inventory information that the product gathered from our network. The combination of this inventory data, along with LANDesk Server Managers informative performance trend reports, should give IT managers the upper hand over unexpected equipment outages.

Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant is at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

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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