PC-Duo from Vector Networks has now reached version 2.0. The suite comprises of modular components that can be bought in when needs dictate. Like other desktop management systems PC-Duo includes modules such as Inventory Management, Remote Control, Software Distribution, Diagnostics, Software Metering, and web-based helpdesk tracking.
This builds on its success as a network management suite for small and medium-sized businesses to encompass bigger enterprises. Most applications tend to be hard to master and navigate, but this product was a breeze.
Installation was fairly painless with a couple of minor irritations, one being having to copy files from the CD onto our test server hard drive before installing certain parts of the suite. Once installed and up and running, the rest was easy.
Probably the first task to be undertaken is pushing out required client software onto the network machines. This can be a nightmare when trying to locate the right commands and menus, but in this case it was simplicity itself. We got our test clients up and running within minutes.
As this Group Test is about auditing products, we shall mainly concentrate on this particular feature. The Inventory Management option allowed us to collect around 600 different bits of hardware and software information on each client computer. It offers high visibility of the hardware and software features of each PC on the network.
To get things going pretty quickly we used the pre-defined groups to see what was on our network, but the software comes with the ability to define what to look for on the network and thus make more informed decisions on equipment lifecycles.
It also managed to keep track of other assets such as zip drives and PCMCIA cards. Should these items go walkies, we were able to know about it sooner rather than later.
A handy companion to the Inventory Management tool is Software Metering. This allowed us to identify who was using what and for how long. So for example, if some users had MS Access but were not using it, a company could save money by putting them onto a cheaper license.
The package is good for everything on the Microsoft front, but lacking on other OSs such as Linux, Macs and Unix. Also, we could not find support for SNMP anywhere, so device management was a no-no.