Adivergence is coming in vendors approaches to desktop management, and IT managers should closely examine the maturing products that can significantly reduce support costs at the desktop. On one side are suites. On the other side are single-purpose tools. Straddling the middle is Vector Networks Ltd.s PC-Duo (see review, above).
Not long ago, when a larger number of vendors were hawking desktop (and now laptop/personal digital assistant) support, desktop management suites made sense, although the products were often ill-formed amalgams of acquired products. The suites that survive today—Intel Corp.s LANDesk Management Suite 6.5, Novell Inc.s ZENworks for Desktops 3 and the newly refurbished PC-Duo Enterprise 1.2—have integrated software and hardware inventory, software delivery, remote control, and other management services.
These tools will save IT staff time and money when they are integrated into a strategy of centralized PC management that includes standardized software and hardware configurations, regular technology refreshes, and adherence to corporate standards for permitted software.
These same strategic goals make all sorts of other IT tasks easier while also promoting business productivity by allowing departments to focus on actual work and spend less time and energy futzing with PCs that are configured with needless customizations and unsupported software.
The trend among single-purpose products, which have been around since the beginning of personal computing, is a move toward the hosted service model. Tally Systems Corp.s TS.Census, AssetMetrix Inc.s AssetMetrix 2.0 and Symantec Corp.s PCAnywhere, to name a few stand-alone products, collect asset information and provide remote control capabilities. These products are being revamped for hosted service use as a way to quickly provide information and services. In the case of inventory tools, the service isnt so much to improve business productivity as it is to satisfy outside software audits. Nonetheless, vendors have honed and stabilized their products so that IT managers are likely to get a product that provides real benefit, rather than a hit-or-miss offering.
Between integrated suites and single-use tools sits PC-Duo Enterprise 1.2, a product that lets IT managers buy components they need without having to purchase features that are supplied by already installed products. This is an innovation that makes PC-Duo Enterprise a better mousetrap by taking a well-understood product and tweaking it slightly to provide greater value to IT managers.
Whether an organization needs a suite of capabilities, a one-trick product or a modular approach, its clear that IT managers will have ever-more-useful PC management options in the future.