Vector Networks Updates PC-Duo Enterprise

Suite now has new diagnostics module for protection, repair and change analysis. Plus news from Winternals, InstallShield, Mice & Men, Trend Micro, O&O, NetOp, and Precise/SiteStor

Vector Networks has launched PC-Duo Enterprise, an updated and enhanced version of their LANutil suite. The product consists of six different modules, and mix-and-match pricing is available. Modules include inventory management (for hardware and software asset inventories), software metering, software distribution, diagnostics, and remote control, as well as a Web-based help desk system.

The most exciting feature of the new release is the brand-new diagnostics module. This module offers protection and repair for critical applications, as well as change analysis. There are two main benefits to this. First, help desk personnel can quickly repair mission-critical applications anywhere on the network without needing to reinstall or re-image the hard drive. Second, you can put an end to the "but I didn't change anything" refrain by accurately tracking just which changes caused the application to break in the first place.

The first step in using the diagnostics module is to use the Diagnostics Console to build a profile for the application that you wish to protect. A profile specifies the critical resources (files, registry keys, ActiveX controls, and so on) that are necessary to keep the application running. The Console includes some pre-built profiles, as well as tools to automatically build a profile from a Windows Installer file, or a Wise, InstallShield, or VB installer. You can also reverse engineer an already-installed application to find its dependencies, or build a profile manually by specifying resources to protect.

Next, the profile is deployed to individual computers. This discovers the exact version of files that need to be protected on the individual computer, and archives copies to a safe spot on the user's hard drive. If an application breaks, the user can call the help desk, who can run a new audit over the network. The results of the audit are compared with the one from the initial deployment, and the helpdesk worker can see exactly which components are changed or missing. The interface also offers the opportunity to fix the problems by restoring versions from the safe backup (plus the ability to undo any changes, just in case).

You can also run the auditing piece separately on a regular basis to watch for unauthorized changes on a user's PC. In addition to application components, you can audit anything that can be retrieved via WMI. The console runs as an MMC application and stores audit results and reports as XML files, making it potentially possible to interoperate with other tools.

One nice thing about PC-Duo Enterprise is that you can buy just the pieces you need, without purchasing modules that you don't want. If you're buying a 100-user license, for example, pricing ranges from $13.20 to $77.30 per user, depending on which modules you opt to purchase. There are a total of 39 different modular combinations available to customize the package. This is a welcome relief from monolithic management products that require you to buy all of their components, even if you already have some functions covered with existing packages.

More new and updated products:

** Winternals is out with a new version of its Administrator's Pak suite. Contents include ERD Commander 2002, Remote Recover and Disk Commander, among other tools. The Pak gives you one bootable CD that can handle a wide variety of system problems.

** The InstallShield Update Service lets any software vendor build Internet delivery of patches and updates directly into their products, similar to Microsoft's Windows Update service. The new offering integrates directly into InstallShield Developer and is priced based on the number of subscribers.

** Mice & Men's DNS Expert Monitor offers cross-platform 24/7 DNS monitoring. The tool constantly monitors DNS zones, looking for configuration errors.

** Trend Micro PortalProtect is an antivirus solution for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server. It offers continuous and transparent scanning of documents checked into SharePoint's storage.

** O&O BlueCon V4 is designed to recover from Windows "blue screen" crashes. It works with Windows NT 4.0/2000/XP and can help you fix everything from bad drivers to lost passwords. Free evaluation copies available for download.

** The new version 7.01 of NetOp Remote Control features full compatibility with Windows XP as well as added security options.

** Precise/SiteStor SRM is a storage resource manager that crosses Windows, Unix, Linux and NAS platforms. It reports on storage patterns and performance across its entire set of target platforms.

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About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.


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