Management supplier Configuresoft Inc. raised the bar on centralized management of Windows NT and Windows 2000 desktop and server configurations this week with the latest release of its Enterprise Configuration Manager.
ECM 4.0 can now manage the system and security configurations of up to 10,000 machines from a single, centralized database of hardware and system software configuration information. ECM 4.0 adds the ability to create user roles to more securely distribute administration capabilities to different classes of users.
"Our goal is to deploy this as an enterprise tool. We can only do that with role-based administration," said an ECM 3.6 user, Mike Knott, supervisor of network operations at Ameren Corp., a St. Louis-based energy company.
Ameren, which will eventually use the updated ECM to manage up to 5,000 machines, will create roles for its help desk operators and its desktop and Windows server administrators.
ECM, which uses agents installed in each managed machine, takes an initial snapshot of each machines configuration, collecting 20,000 to 60,000 data elements into a central data repository. The tool then tracks changes in each machines configuration. It transmits only changes made since the initial snapshot or latest transmission. The system logs changes.
ECM is unique in its ability to track configuration settings, software license compliance and changes to security settings, according to analyst Laura Didio at Information Technology Intelligence Corp., in Grafton, Mass.
"Ninety percent of organizations have some issue with the Microsoft [Corp.] licensing thing. The Configuresoft product lets you more easily track what you have," Didio said. The ability to create different access rights to the tool is also unique, she said.
"The whole issue of role-based policy management is taking on much greater importance as the network becomes more complex," Didio said.
ECM 4.0 eases configuration changes on machines by using wizards, rather than scripting languages, and greatly extends the range of functions that can be performed in the system from its Web-based interface.
In addition, ECM 4.0 improves its reporting functions by making it simpler to create reports and by adding graphical reporting capabilities, according to Randy Streu, vice president of product management for Configuresoft, in Woodland Park, Colo.
"We put in wizards so you could look for certain data without knowing intricacies of the database," Streu said.
ECM 4.0, which is due next month, costs $995 per server and $30 per workstation.