Product Reviews

Kaseya Virtual System Administrator

Kaseya's management system is a little inconsistent, but is useful for some administrators and should get better with further work.

As computers in some companies reach into the tens of thousands, IT managers need a robust, easy-to-use and centralized computer-management system. Kaseya's offering in this market is Virtual System Administrator, a Web-based application designed to monitor, administer and report on the systems within a company's infrastructure, while at the same time reducing total cost of ownership.

This review is based on the online trial, although there is the option for the system to run on an IIS server within a company's network. The client needs an agent installed, which is a 2.08MB application for remote control. Similar to other systems-management suites, IT managers can roll out Kaseya Virtual System Administrator via the suite itself, though they can also use Group Policy or a log-on script.

Strong Points
The layout of Virtual System Administrator's console makes tasks easy to perform, and the interface presents sections in a logical fashion. The audit does a good job of pulling hardware information from the client and will even link parts of the system information directly to the manufacturer's Web site. This makes manual searches for patches and driver updates a little bit quicker.

Listing of installed applications is comprehensive -- perhaps a little too comprehensive, as users can filter on a number of factors, such as application, description, version and manufacturer. There is, however, no way to filter every .EXE installed by the operating system, which makes the default page very cluttered with a lot of unneeded information. The only way to solve this problem is to manually filter out each .EXE, and even then Virtual System Administrator lacks the ability to save frequently used searches.

Reporting is quick and easy to set up; IT can schedule it, and the system lays out reports clearly. Management reports have all the nice charts and bolded main points that managers like, and the technical reports are detailed.

REDMOND RATING
Installation 20%
9.0
Features 20%
8.5
Ease of use 20%
8.0
Administration 20%
7.5
Documentation 20%
7.0
Overall Rating:
8.4

Key: 1: Virtually inoperable or nonexistent  5: Average, performs adequately   10: Exceptional

Small Hiccups
Security status seems to require the free AVG anti-virus application to be of any use, and adding a "preferred" anti-virus vendor didn't seem to be an option. According to the product's reviewer's guide, purchasing the additional Kaseya Endpoint Security module makes integrating other anti-virus vendors' products possible.

The reviewer's guide does need some sanity checking, as material on creating custom packages is missing. I found that the option was grayed out and hidden away under the menu System > Function Access > Scripts, with text informing me that: "function access for this role is locked to a role you do not have access to." I found that a little odd, as I thought I was an administrator. With no discernable way to add new or edit existing users, this function of Virtual System Administrator had to go untested.

Favorable Outlook
Virtual System Administrator is an easy management suite to get into, no matter what your level of IT knowledge. Even someone inexperienced with management suites could hit the floor running with this.

So, does Virtual System Administrator live up to Kaseya's claims that it will aid in "... simplifying and automating the process of deploying, updating, logging, monitoring, managing and reporting"? It generally does, but it doesn't feel quite ready for prime time just yet. Virtual System Administrator will sometimes provide much more information than IT actually needs. At other times, it won't let IT perform the most basic activities, such as creating a new administrator for the system, or giving the ability to save custom filters.

Once Kaseya polishes these edges, it will be a great tool, and I'd happily recommend that it be considered alongside its peers. 

Kaseya Virtual System Administrator version 5.1

Price dependent upon deployment
Kaseya International Ltd.
415-694-5705
www.kaseya.com

About the Author

Stuart Fordham has worked in IT infrastructure for finance and medical health companies for five years.

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