The latest version of LANDesk's Management Suite -- a leading desktop and server management product -- has new features, including tools to show the benefits of using the product, software license tracking, and enhanced automation for application deployment and management.
One of the difficulties in acquiring a management suite is justifying the initial purchase and ongoing license fees. Why pay for desktop management when Microsoft offers free and low-cost tools for application deployment and desktop management? In fact, the tools aren't always robust enough to handle desktops and servers, and much of the work required by IT isn't captured well. Providing the ability to justify the expenditures on a desktop management suite seems self-serving on the part of LANDesk, but if used responsibly can give IT the data necessary to streamline management.
Quantifying the costs of manual or inefficient desktop management is hard. Determining the cost to visit a desktop includes everything from travel time to lost employee productivity. Now factor in the number of times that occurs in a month or year -- the costs to track the work can rise into a full- or part-time position. With ROI analytics, you can determine the total costs of specific tasks, and the analytics will calculate how much the manual methods cost versus the cost for using LANDesk.
Add in other cost management features like software license management (which lets you determine how your licenses are used and who can access licensed software by role membership) and this becomes a power tool to manage licensed software.
An additional automation feature allows establishing the desired setting of the host. For example, the sales group may need one set of applications while the engineering group needs a different set. By setting a desired application set, a user's applications can be automatically deployed based on group membership. When users change roles, their applications can be automatically redeployed as needed. If a user deletes an application, then LANDesk can be configured to automatically redeploy the missing program.
New security features include support for 802.1X in the NAC product, USB encryption, and application control. USB encryption is critical because USB memory sticks, iPods, and other portable media are used by employees to move data around. By setting an encryption policy, you can enforce how mobile storage is used by restricting read and write access or requiring encryption using LANDesk's AES 256-bit encryption.
A new encrypted USB drive will have an archive added, and a small application will allow a user to unencrypt the drive when used on unmanaged devices. This could be considered a weakness if we assume that a company wants to ensure that data is kept private and restrict its exposure. Still, the policy-based USB management is a welcome enhancement.
Application control, the purview of host intrusion prevention, means applications need permission to execute or access system services like attaching to a network port or take actions like sending e-mail. Application control thwarts worm-like activity by stopping application execution.