F-Secure Policy Manager
Free (included with AV suite, $41.80 per user)
Great cross-platform support, and highly flexible.
Complex, even for relatively simple tasks.
For large diverse environments, you cannot do much better.
F-Secure's offering includes several components: a Policy Manager (the hub of the suite), an Anti-Virus Management Wizard and the Policy Manager Reporting Option.
We were delighted to see that F-Secure not only offers anti-virus client products for Linux, but also the full admin console and policy management server. Not only that, but the Windows version can be configured to look and feel like a CDE/Motif environment, for Solaris diehards. The company has gone to great lengths to achieve platform independence, and hats off to them for a great job.
The policy manager uses public/ private key pairs to authenticate management information exchanged between systems, the cleanest and most secure implementation of all the products we tested. The administrator console can also be restricted to the local host, preventing remote connections outright. None of the other products we tested offered such an easy console lockdown.
The software can explore Windows domains for client systems and push software down to them. One surprise came when the console demanded a key code for installation. The news that we had provided the incorrect code only came after it had tried and failed to installed the AV software on every client. Some upfront warning could have saved a lot of time, even though it was really our own fault.
The policy controls are extremely powerful and flexible, allowing the administrator to set every property imaginable. Perhaps too powerful: small tasks like a quick signature update can be a bit of a chore to set up. Some quick templates would be very useful.
Similarly, the reporting features are excellent, enabling the administrator to extract and collate information on deployments and incidents with great finesse. But again, some simple templates for common reports would have come in handy.
To distribute and manage software, the suite builds installation packages, which cover F-Secure's anti-virus, VPN and file encryption solutions. If you're looking for a homogeneous managed solution for clients, servers and gateways, on multiple operating platforms, this is the one you want. It is a tremendously powerful solution, but not for the faint-hearted - its power comes at the price of complexity.