AutoProf this week will make it easier to manage Windows desktops from within Microsofts Active Directory with the second major release of its Policy Maker Professional.
Version 2.0 of the utility, which extends the functionality of Microsoft Corp.s Active Directorys Group Policy, lets administrators automate the configuration of 10 Windows Control Panel settings for different groups within an organization.
Among the new extensions is the ability to set the power options policy in a way that can recoup $51 per PC per year in wasted energy costs, according to Eric Voskuil, CTO of the Portsmouth, N.H., company.
AutoProf, with its automated power management extension to Group Policy, received Energy Star certification from the Environmental Protection Agency. “The way Windows handles power savings options doesnt encourage usage. There is no effective way to manage the power options on all your desktops,” said Voskuil.
One AutoProf user at a medium-sized manufacturing company estimated that the power extension could save his company at least $60,000 per year in recouped energy costs.
“Say there are 2,000 machines that stay on overnight that we can shut down. If we save $30 per machine per year, that more than pays for the cost of Policy Maker in the first year alone,” said user Bill Van Aacken, senior technology lead at Bemis Company Inc., in Oshkosh, Wis.
“Tweaking power settings with scripting isnt easy to do. With this we can shut down the monitor or the LCD, throttle down the hard drives,” added Van Aacken.
The 10 new extensions in Version 2.0, which triple the amount available in Policy Maker Pro, are targeted at return on investment savings as well as security improvements.
The latest release allows administrators to change local administrator passwords on all machines, and administrators can use complex passwords and rotate those passwords periodically. “Using our filtering system, you can target particular users for elevated permissions to run certain applications. And you can add a user to a local administrators group without destroying the group altogether,” said Voskuil.
That level of granularity is not available in Microsofts implementation of Group Policy, Van Aacken contended. “Its pretty much cut and dry within their Group Policy. If you have a group that you want to apply something to, everyone in the group gets it or no one gets it. Policy Makers multilayer filtering is huge,” he said.
Other new extensions allow administrators to set up different types of network connections and to customize scheduled tasks and folder options as well as Windows services.
Policy Maker Pro 2.0 is available now and is priced at $14 per seat, or $11 per seat for existing users. Next month AutoProf will add centralized Group Policy reporting to the utility.