Symantec targets client management

Integrated suite will cross boundaries

Symantec last week unveiled a suite of client management applications that the company says will converge management features, security capabilities and storage tools to help customers more easily maintain, secure and restore end-user desktops and other client devices.

The company says it has brought together capabilities from its Norton antivirus and Ghost backup and recovery tools with systems management technology acquired in February 2004 from On Technology to deliver its LiveState Client Management Suite. The suite includes seven software applications. Some are stand-alone and others are add-ons that snap into other products. They address desktop management tasks such as asset discovery, software delivery, configuration management, patch management, vulnerability assessment, imaging, migration, remote control, and backup and recovery.

Symantec strings together the tools by incorporating a common database and agent within the applications. The suite uses server and distributed agent software to manage and secure end-user clients. Because different IT administrators would use the products, Symantec says it maintained separate consoles for the applications but incorporated web-based interfaces "with a similar look and feel." For example, a security staffer in charge of anti-virus scans would access one console and a network administrator responsible for distributing software to desktops would use another.

The company says integrated tools that address the security, storage and management needs of desktop users could help lower operations costs for corporations. According to Gartner, the total cost of ownership associated with procuring, owning, supporting and disposing of a desktop can range anywhere from $US4,000 (NZ5,400) to US$11,000 (NZ$15,000) per desktop, per year.

Industry watchers say Symantec and competitors such as Altiris, Computer Associates, IBM Tivoli and LANDesk have been incrementally merging systems and security management tools, especially those dealing with desktops, which in large organisations can reduce manual maintenance tasks and duplication of efforts.

"The suite combines all these different desktop tasks together with a straightforward process flow that can cross organiational boundaries, such as that between security and PC administration," says Jasmine Noel, a principal analyst with Ptak, Noel & Associates. "Enterprise companies are realizing that treating PC management as individual tasks takes a lot of manual effort that has to be duplicated with every new project. With clear policies and processes, the odds of automation and optimisation are much better so it becomes cheaper to manage thousands of PCs at a time."

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