Altiris Suite Widens ITs Management Options

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2002-11-11

Altiris Suite Widens ITs Management Options

Altiris Inc.s Client Mgmt Suite 5.5 has additional PC and handheld management capabilities for inventory and remote control that strengthen the integrated tool and make it a good choice for IT managers who are trying to get a handle on wide-ranging assets.

During eWeek Labs tests, we used the enhanced inventory system to gather Dell Computer Corp. serial numbers that were too large for the previous version of the product. Using the venerable Carbon Copy remote control portion of the PC management suite, we could use a Hewlett-Packard Co. iPaq Pocket PC to remotely control PCs, as well as chat with users.

Client Mgmt Suite 5.5 started shipping last month and costs $76 per license in 100-to-499-unit volumes. This is a little more expensive than competitors offerings but not out of line given the migration and inventory control capabilities that we found in the product.

Although we were not using the Altiris Express Helpdesk software, the improved capabilities of the Pocket PC-based system allow technicians to deal with trouble tickets while on rounds, using many of the same functions that they would use when working from a PC.

As weve said in previous reviews of PC management tools (most recently, in our Oct. 21 review of Novell Inc.s ZENworks for Desktops 4 at www., more of these products are including handheld computers as managed devices and as devices that improve the productivity of technical staff—and that is a good thing for IT managers. Handling rudimentary tasks from a handheld will likely be a big improvement for desk-side service technicians.

During our tests of the Altiris software, we found only minor drawbacks to using Client Mgmt Suite 5.5. These included the fact that software distribution is a more cumbersome process than with competing products from Novell and LANDesk Software Inc. It also took us a little longer than expected to migrate older PCs with complex customizations to Microsoft Corp. productivity tools, including Word.

However, Client Mgmt Suites integration capabilities more than compensate for these few shortcomings.

Overall, Altiris Client Mgmt Suite 5.5 is a nicely integrated package of operating system deployment/migration, inventory and asset management tools that let us easily track PC hardware and software in our test environment. After we finished fine-tuning our migration procedures, we migrated our test machines with hardly any effort beyond specifying a schedule and creating a group of machines that should participate.

Client Mgmt Suite 5.5 is filled with improvements that make life easier for desktop managers. PC Transplant Pro, the part of Client Mgmt Suite that transfers user preferences from one machine to another after a new operating system is installed, provided us with a wealth of new options that should make life easier for PC managers after they master the new features.

For example, we were able to set up extensive filtering options that let us determine the files, folders and file types to be included and excluded from the transplant process.We could exclude most personal photo and graphics files while including legitimate work-related art files during the migration process.

Also new in this version is the ability to retain file and folder security permissions. This is an important im- provement because it reduces the migration hassle of having users re-configure file permissions on the origin or target system.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant is at

Executive Summary: Client Mgmt Suite 5.5

Executive Summary

: Client Mgmt Suite 5.5">

Usability Fair
Capability Excellent
Performance Good
Interoperability Good
Manageability Good
Scalability Good
Security Good

Altiris Client Mgmt Suite 5.5 is an integrated operating system deployment, asset tracking and remote control tool set that helps IT managers upgrade PCs and mobile computing devices while also offering the ability to transfer user settings, thereby cutting migration costs. This version of the product boosts the role of handhelds by making them more manageable and also by using handheld devices to provide remote control trouble-shooting services.


The acquisition costs are a little high, at $76 per license, but not that far ahead of the competition. The product should quickly cut maintenance costs, particularly for shops that are facing a big migration from Windows 98 (or 95) to either Windows 2000 or XP.

(+) Integrates operating system deployment and migration tools with other client management components that should make desk-side services much easier to maintain.

(-) Application deployment is not as strong as competitive products; some procedures, such as handling complex customizations, require extra effort to work correctly.


  • Novells ZENworks for Desktops
  • LANDesk Softwares LANDesk

  • Rocket Fuel