Altiris unifies view of IT devices

Altiris Inc. this week unveiled a management suite that enables government agencies and commercial businesses to manage all of their information technology devices, including handhelds, from a single, Web-based console.

The Altiris Client Management Suite marks the first time the company has combined its system management products to address all aspects of a complete technology life cycle starting with initial deployment, said Tyler Smith, vice president of marketing for the Lindon, Utah-based company.

The new suite, showcased this week at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, includes:

* The ability to manage inventory and treat devices as assets.

* Software distribution and ongoing management.

* Help desk with remote-control capabilities.

Altiris' products already are being used by many government agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service, and the company has had briefings with other agencies that have expressed an interest in using the new client management solution, Smith said.

This also is the first time the company has included management of handheld devices.

"Customers didn't want different consoles for the different users," Smith said. "Any device that can bring up a Web browser can view reports and work from the console to initiate events, including help-desk [support]."

Other features include:

* Packages can be moved via thin bandwidth connections to remote regional offices and scheduled for deployment, eliminating the need for experienced IT personnel to be present in each office.

* Role-based security enables administrators to control which product features the IT staff can view and use.

* Personal digital assistants appear as clients on the console, making those devices as easy to manage as desktops or laptops. The new suite currently supports Microsoft Corp. Windows operating systems and has limited support for Linux and Unix systems, but Altiris will continue to extend that support, Smith said.

Shipping is set to begin in the first half of December, and pricing starts at $69 per node for 10 nodes, Smith said, adding that discounts are available for volume orders.

According to Greg Stewart, federal government sales manager for Altiris, many potential customers have expressed an interest in the product and some customers are already using most of the products that make up the Client Management Suite.

Customers that are evaluating or considering the Client Management Suite include the Air Force, the Navy, the Labor Department and the U.S. Geological Survey, Stewart said.

Smith said he expects the first government customer to be fully deployed on the new suite early next year.

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