LANDesk 6.62 a Top-Notch Tool

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2003-02-03
 
 
 

LANDesk 6.62 a Top-Notch Tool


LANDesk 6.62 is among the first desktop management systems to be agnostic about operating system image source files, using its own or competitors images to prepare PCs for deployment.

This is the first edition of the suite released by LANDesk Software Inc., a recent Intel Corp. spinoff, and eWEEK Labs tests showed Version 6.62 contains all the operating system deployment necessities—responsive remote control, adequate hardware and software inventory, and capable software distribution.

In addition, LANDesk, which shipped last month, is at the head of the management pack because it supports a variety of desktop systems that are likely to be found in large organizations including Windows, Linux and Mac OS-based systems.

However, like competitors including Novell Inc.s ZENworks for Desktops and Microsoft Corp.s Systems Management Server, LANDesk 6.62 requires time and commitment to attain the payback of increased IT support staff productivity.

Based on tests of this and previous versions of LANDesk, along with rival products, we advise IT managers to allocate a minimum of several weeks—and potentially, several months—to planning and pilot testing before putting this or any other desktop management product onto a production system.

Like its competitors, LANDesk works best when used consistently throughout the life cycle of a desktop system. For example, our tests consistently showed we were more likely to get accurate inventory data and successful results from software distribution jobs on machines that we imaged in our test "depot," rather than machines that were already "in the field." We therefore strongly encourage IT managers to develop plans that focus on new systems first.

LANDesk 6.62 ships with LANDesks OSD (Operating System Deployment) module and is competitively priced at $75 per managed desktop. Unlike rival products from Novell and Microsoft, however, mobile device management software is not included in this price. We think the next big step for LANDesk will be to build in mobile device support.

Easy Installment Plan


Easy Installment Plan

Although it takes a long time to prepare operating system deployments, installing the LANDesk 6.62 software takes almost no time at all. We installed the package on a MicronPC LLC Millennia with a 2.5GHz Pentium 4 processor and half a gigabyte of RAM running Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 3, a requirement of the software. Plan on going to Microsofts Windows Update site and installing .Net Framework along with the latest service pack (in our case, SP2).

We had to take a journey in the Way-back Machine during the OSD installation because the product needs files from Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 98 to facilitate some disk imaging procedures.

We created an image of a Windows 98 and Windows 2000 Professional system, along with Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux 8.0. Although it took a certain amount of trickery to get all these images to work, we were successful with a bit of help from LANDesk support staff and by—dare we say it—reading the documentation.

LANDesk will need to improve its imaging tool to match those in Symantec Corp.s Ghost Corporate Edition 7.5, the gold standard in disk imaging, and PowerQuest Corp.s PowerDeploy Suite, which benefits from PartitionMagic, PowerQuests benchmark IT tool. We had to use Microsofts Sysprep tool to get our images shipshape and had to do a significant amount of manual file tweaking, although it paid off when our images installed flawlessly after just a couple of trial runs.

Its important to note that, with one exception, we used machines that were nearly identical; and all our machines were in PXE, or Pre-boot Execution Environment, mode, so we could schedule deployment tasks and take a hands-off approach to image deployment.

IT managers who need to deploy images with multiple partitions must create the images first using Symantecs or PowerQuests product or a similar one. This is necessary because, as our tests showed, when an operating system image is put on a machine, LANDesk sizes it to take all available space, wiping out any other partitions that might have been on the machine.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.

Executive Summary


: LANDesk 6.62">

Executive Summary: LANDesk 6.62

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

LANDesks namesake desktop management suite neatly handles operating system deployments by creating its own images or by using competitors. LANDesk, newly spun off from Intel, is loaded with components that ease desktop management tasks such as inventory collection, remote control and software distribution.

COST ANALYSIS

At $79 per managed desktop, LANDesk is marginally more expensive than competitors, many of which hover at a mark about $10 cheaper. However, the real costs for any desktop management product that includes operating system deployment are the planning and testing commitments that IT managers must make for these products to pay off. When IT managers make these commitments, they pay back handsomely.

(+) Can recycle images made with other operating system deployment tools; packs top-of-the-line remote control with good software distribution and inventory tracking.

(-) Cant create images with multiple partitions; extensive scripting required to create working distribution jobs.

EVALUATION SHORT LIST

  • Novells ZENworks for Desktops
  • Microsofts Systems Management Server
  • Symantecs Ghost Corporate Edition
  • www.landesk.com

  • Rocket Fuel