Product Reviews

Administration From Afar

Remotely administer your desktops with GoverLAN.

PJ Technologies’ GoverLAN is a lightweight tool with three separate areas of functionality. The first is the Management Console, through which administrators can support computers and users. Second is a Remote Control feature, which allows admins to control a console desktop. Finally, there are Scope Actions, which perform queries, produce reports, or take action on a group of users, groups, or machines within Active Directory.

Installation was painless. The console portion was a quick install, and once the server side was up, installation of clients and agents was a snap. On the Server side, the GoverLAN console updates real-time, so there are no hassles with databases. The interface is logically laid out with an Outlook-ish look and feel.

From here, you can query machines and collect information about hardware, software, processes and services. You can find out who’s logged on, where a user is currently logged on, or look at a log of which users have logged on to a box. You can work with user and group accounts in AD using the GoverLAN interface.

GoverLAN comes with a remote console feature that works rather well. One thing not intuitively obvious, but configurable through a Registry modification, is setting RC to not display indicators during remote sessions, which may be of use if you ever have to monitor workstations.

GoverLAN
GoverLAN’s Administration and Diagnostics applet. (Click image to view larger version.)

Scope Actions in GoverLAN create queries based on attributes of a computer, user or group and can report on them, set properties based on query results, or execute an action. For example, I could create an action to send a pop-up message to every computer with 128MB of RAM. There are a bunch of conditions and actions that can create many combinations. This could be useful if you have to populate a bunch of account information in AD based on certain parameters.

I really like the licensing structure for this product. With a lot of network management products, fees are based on the number of managed stations, along with a server license of some kind. But with GoverLAN, you pay per seat for each administrator using the tool. So if you have one admin, you buy one seat. This is neat because you don’t have to go through the hassle of buying client licenses when adding machines to the network. If you have the honor of being a “one admin” shop, the pricing never changes, no matter how many machines are supported.

One disappointment is that GoverLAN is strictly an NT-family administration tool. It supports NT 4.0, Win2K and XP. There’s no support for 9x or non-Microsoft platforms.

PJ Tech is also working up some modifications for version 5.5 that it says will incorporate management of local account databases. Just offering a Scope Action to change Local Administrator Passwords on desktops en masse is quite valuable to me. But don’t take my word for it: Have a look yourself and see if it fits your network support plan.

About the Author

Rick A. Butler, MCSE+I, is the Director of Information Services for the United States Hang Gliding Association.

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