CA Desktop Management Suite r11.1
Rene Millman delves into the world of network management software and discovers that you can teach an old dog new tricks
Until recently the components of CA's Desktop Management Suite were only available separately. Now they have been brought together in one package, combining the company's patch management and asset management tools with software distribution and remote control facilities.
Installation, as a result, is both fragmented and a bit of a long-winded process, but luckily not too much time is spent ticking boxes. Most time during installation is spent setting up the management database. System administrators can opt for either Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or CA's Ingres product (we chose to use the latter and install it locally) but whichever you choose you'll have to set aside a fair amount of disk space. The package requires 12GB of free disk space, 7.7GB of which is required for the installation itself, plus another 50GB for database.
We took a look at the product's asset management component first. Discovery of assets within the infrastructure was fairly quick. Agents are installed on each end device and these deal with both patch management and asset tracking. The initial step when deploying agents is to remotely install a small 'primer' application on the target computer. This primer software is responsible for the subsequent transfer of the agent installation images and the initiation of their installation.
As you might expect from a CA product it can also integrate with its Unicenter Service Desk helpdesk package. This means that the suite can in some circumstances automatically create 'trouble tickets' which support personnel using that software can then act upon.
Another interesting aspect of this product is that the remote control component allows administrators to control not only Windows machines, but also Linux servers - and from a Windows PC too. The remote control viewer allows you to specify the level of control you have over target computers ranging from shared control with the end user to complete control. The product also includes a stealth mode which allows administrators to monitor the host without detection. We liked the ability the product has to transfer data just by dragging and dropping files onto the user's desktop.
The data backup and restore is another handy function. This allows critical data to be backed up on not only desktop machines but also laptops and desktops situated beyond the corporate infrastructure- an important area which is all-too often overlooked.
Overall this is a well thought out package that can only get better in later versions, and is well worth consideration, even more so if you are looking to cut down on the number of agents installed on endpoint devices.
A highly competent desktop management product for medium-sized businesses and up
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