Product Reviews

Preview: LanUtil 5.1

New version will include Oracle 8 support and Package Policy Manager.

Vector Networks is preparing to release version 5.1 of its network hardware and software management product, LANutil Suite. I had an opportunity to look at a release candidate build of this version, and based on my test drive, this is a worthwhile upgrade.

LANutil performs two basic functions. First, it helps you keep track of the hardware and software installed on your Windows-based network. Second, it helps you deploy new software by creating packages and rolling them out to the computers on your network. These features work well, and LANutil is notably easier to install and configure than other applications in the same arena (such as Microsoft SMS).

So what's new in this version? For starters, LANutil now supports Oracle 8 as its backend database, in addition to Microsoft JET and SQL Server, so you can choose a storage method that's most compatible with your other applications. The hardware and software inventories now automatically track change histories, so you can see what's been happening out on the network and what the previous configuration looked like. A new asset management feature lets you add anything you like to the pre-defined information that LANutil collects, and the information that you add can be viewed in the console or on reports just like the pre-defined information. This means you can manage routers, hubs, monitors, or even chairs and desks with the same tools that you use to track hard drives and RAM.

A powerful Package Policy Manager lets you define mandatory, optional, and prohibited software for groups of computers, and then track compliance with these policies. Other new utilities include SQLWizard and DBViewer, which let you easily build custom queries to get information out of the LANutil database. There's also a passive software metering capability that can track which applications are run on which computers, and how often—critical information when you need to determine how many licenses to purchase.

The beta version I looked at had a few bugs, but overall it performed as advertised. I had no trouble deploying the client around my network and then quickly producing either built-in or custom reports. If you're in the market for a tool to manage your network's hardware and software assets, LANutil 5.1 will strengthen an already-strong contender.

About the Author

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

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