The LANDesk Management Suite, previously owned by Intel, is the only product in this Group Test which is not in fact an anti-virus solution at all. It offers network management and software deployment, which is basically what anti-virus management is all about anyway.
One of the suite's clear advantages is that it is not tied to any vendor's anti-virus software - you can install and manage any combination of products you like. The agent can monitor the install process for any software and create a package that will mimic the process on any system, often faster and easier than installing the software natively. We deployed and configured Norman Virus Control to client systems and the LANDesk installation was everything it promised.
The product was definitely the most complex in this Group Test. Setting it up required several agents to be installed and started and, because this was a Windows system, each one needed a reboot. Web access required that the IIS guest account be added to the power users group, which may have security implications; we would have preferred to see the software creating its own user with appropriate privileges.
Once it is all up and running, the software is surprisingly easy to use. Tasks are set up through intuitive dialogues which guide the administrator through an almost bewildering array of fine-tuning options, but the end result is a set of tasks which control deployment, patch level (i.e. signature updates) and configuration across any size network.
The tasks themselves were slow to run, but the delay did not increase with additional clients, suggesting that the overhead is going to remain manageable.
Despite all its internal complexity, the actual logging and reporting is spartan. This is ideal for software management, but not for the sort of blow-by-blow detail required in anti-virus incident response. You'll need to do some work on custom reporting for that, but happily it is relatively straightforward.
The web console is good but supports only browsers on Windows platforms, which is a pity. Because it is full-blown network management, you also benefit from remote control, auditing, and software licensing facilities, and a whole lot more. Although the LANDesk suite lacks some of the tweaking and polish that specific anti-virus management solutions offer, for complicated environments supporting a range of anti-virus (and others), this is a real gem.