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XcelleNet's Afaria 5.0

Before I installed Afaria and Microsoft SQL 2000 on a dual Pentium 600-MHz, 512-MB Ram system at Network Computing's Real-World Labs at Syracuse University, I had to install a SQL database (such as Oracle 8i/9i or Microsoft SQL 7.0) to allow Afaria to store system information. Afaria comes with MSDE (Microsoft Data Engine), but because of its limited performance, I recommend using a database with more functionality such as SQL Server 2000 or Oracle 8i/9i. The .NET Framework, IIS 5.0 and Crystal Reports 7.0 (for viewing reports only) also are required for Afaria use.

Deployment and Administration

Afaria Interface

click to enlarge

The Afaria client is created via an easy-to-use wizard application. Installation executables are preconfigured for the Afaria system, so network connectivity to the Afaria server is already configured. Typically, companies using Afaria include the client as part of their standard image for Win32 devices; Palm devices have Afaria as part of the stock ROM image; and Windows CE devices deploy Afaria through an SD (San Disk) or CF (Compact Flash) card. The client also can be deployed via e-mail or offered as a download from corporate intranets.

Channels are set up with a straightforward wizard interface inside of the Web console. To deploy a software package, you simply select the platform that you want to target (e.g., all Windows clients), select the setup file or files, and deploy. Afaria also includes many advanced features for deploying channels, such as delivering content only on a certain date for a certain time period, checking client user system hardware specifications (e.g., deliver if client system has >128 MB RAM) or providing any additional command-line parameters.

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