From the delivery console, IT managers can deploy Symantec Ghost or Symantec DeployCenter images. We used the Ghost version in LCMS to create images for a variety of Windows operating systems (for servers and desktops) and Linux systems without much fuss. We used Delivery to distribute software to these same systems and to create software deployment jobs to Unix, Mac OS and Pocket PC systems.The Delivery module made it easy for us to deploy the LCMS agent to computers in our network and to create administrative accounts so that we could restrict LCMS operators to specific areas of the product. We could also create computer groups and computer profiles that we assigned to these groups. Unlike the Web-based tools of many management products, which allow only report viewing or minimal administration, Deliverys Web console enabled us to perform nearly every task that we could when seated at the Windows console. However, each activitysuch as assigning a profile to a computer or assigning a software package for distribution to a computeris a one-way process, with no way to recover from a typing mistake except to start the whole process over. The Web-based console does have promise. For example, the simple layout and clear categories of activities made it easy for us to quickly get started with creating groups or bringing computers under management with LCMS. LCMS Designer is where package creation happens, and the module includes a well-thought-out component called Package Manager. Package Manager contains all the familiar tools needed to distribute applications while insulating users from the deployment process. During tests with the package-creation utilities, we used AutoInstall Snapshot, AutoInstall Builder and a tool that allowed us to create a package that can be used by Microsoft Windows Installer. Given this breadth of choices, its hard to imagine an application that couldnt be accommodated with Designers tools. While the process of building these packages wasnt quite as comprehensive as dedicated install builders such as New Boundary Technologies Inc.s Prism Deploy, all the packages we created worked when they got to the desktopand thats the real test of any deployment tool. Designer also encompasses the Symantec Client Migration tools. We were able to migrate system settings and user data from one Windows XP system to another with no problems. This version of Client Migration includes tools for securely transferring and storing data, a good addition to the product. As much as we were impressed with Delivery and Designer, the new Patch Manager portion of LCMS was something of a disappointment. This component is a ho-hum, Windows-only tool that mostly automates assessment and patch management activities that are better served by Microsofts Windows Server Update Services. During our tests, the finicky Patch Manager stopped working several times when we attempted to perform multiple simple tasks simultaneously. At the end of the day, however, our systems were all correctly patched. Even though it proved difficult to discover when patches were applied and by whom, we were able, through the granular administrative account management system that is built into LCMS, to restrict patch activities to a specific category of users. This kind of attention to detailalthough it was sometimes quite unevenmakes LCMS quite workable today and lays a solid groundwork for improvement in the future. Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.
In fact, Delivery supports every operating system IT managers are likely to meet except Palm OS-based devices and Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerrys. This wide operating system support and the ease with which we could slate deployments are two main reasons for recommending IT managers consider the overall LCMS product.