Symantec has Ghost for government

Migrating data and configuration settings among desktops can be a task fraught with complications, which is why federal network administrators managing hundreds of PCs might be interested in a tool that enables them to do those jobs from a single console.

Symantec Corp. today began shipping its Ghost 7.0 Enterprise Edition, a PC management tool that enables administrators to deploy, configure, back up, restore and distribute software and user-specific images to network and mobile PCs from a central console.

Ghost 7.0 has two significant additions that should prove especially useful to government users, said Lee Balzer, group product manager in Symantec's Enterprise Administration division: user migration and a backup utility in case of disaster.

The user migration enables an IT administrator to capture user file directories and desktop settings and copy them to a new PC. "You can get the entire contents of My Documents or just selected files," Balzer said. "First, you get the user settings to capture the look and feel, and then you get the data files. It's ideal for [migration to] Windows 2000."

Balzer said customer feedback, including some from government clients, drove this change. Although other companies offer a similar feature, Symantec's product is the only one that can do it remotely.

"Others do it, but they're client-to-client based so you have to be there to do it," he said. "Symantec does it remotely so you don't have to send a technician out there, which would be good for government users in large buildings."

Ghost's Incremental Backup takes snapshots of data on the network's PCs and tracks any changes that have occurred since the last captured image. IT administrators can use the feature to schedule backups, or do it on demand, Balzer said.

"It can be a full Ghost image, which would be done weekly or monthly.or periodically for incremental images, which takes less time and is less of a load on the network," he said.

Several federal customers use previous versions of Ghost, but Symantec would not name them because of confidentiality agreements.

Ghost 7.0 is available from Symantec's government resellers, which include GTSI Corp., ASAP Software Express Inc. and CDW-G Inc. It is sold on a per-node basis, with 100 seats costing $15 each; discounts are available for larger volume buys, Balzer said.

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