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Hosted Desktop Management


Desktop management is all about solving business problems and reducing the burden on IT. Desktop-management systems can be used to track inventory, distribute software, reduce network vulnerabilities and track software licenses in less time, and with less effort, than that needed in unmanaged environments. Still, conventional, on-site desktop management requires a significant investment in time, capital and knowledge. A hosted desktop-management setup reduces the upfront costs and removes some system implementation chores for IT staff.

Earlier this year, we tested low-cost desktop management suites (see "Node Control"). That review was framed around the efforts of a fictitious company, Last Spike Enterprises, the largest manufacturer, reseller and distributor of model railroad vegetation and livestock figurines. At the time, Last Spike had about 1,000 desktops, but since then, that number has grown to 2,200 desktops across six locations and hundreds of mobile workers. The company's growth could be unsustainable, however, and Last Spike might see a dramatic decrease in staff in the near future. The company is conservative with budgeting and hiring, so the thinly stretched IT department decided to consider hosted desktop management.

We sent a nine-page RFI to vendors of hosted desktop-management software and received responses from DirectPointe, Everdream and Getronics (see the complete RFI and responses below). All three have similar offerings, with the biggest differences found in access control, security and price. After our analysis, we awarded our Editor's Choice to Getronics' Future-Ready Workspace; it has the best combination of security controls, software-license monitoring, price and online backup capabilities. DirectPointe Complete Solution has a wide breadth of features but is expensive. Everdream's Compliance Services Suite and Uptime Services Suite are well-rounded, but their feature sets don't justify the price.

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