Symantec is definitely a company to watch

* Notes from Altiris user conference ManageFusion

I'm just back from Symantec's ManageFusion event in Las Vegas. You may recall that ManageFusion was started by Altiris, the systems management company acquired by Symantec just about a year ago. Needless to say, the Symantec executives spent a lot of time talking about the progress in integrating the two companies, and how the synergies are beginning to pay big dividends for customers. Let me share some of my notes with you.

Symantec seems to be one of those companies that toiled for 25 years to become an overnight success. The company has grown rapidly through mergers and acquisitions, not the least of which was systems management company Altiris in April 2007. Now in 2008, Symantec is a powerhouse player in security, systems management, application virtualization, storage management and compliance (Compare Network Auditing and Compliance products).

My time at the Altiris user conference ManageFusion 2008 two weeks ago tells me Symantec is definitely a company to watch, especially throughout this year as it really ties together its acquired and homegrown products. The code monkeys (Symantec’s term, not mine) have been busy putting the finishing touches on Altiris Notification Server 7.0, which is now in beta and scheduled to ship in early autumn. This platform is going to be the architecture for the next generation of Symantec products. Here’s a sample of what’s new in this next release:

* Tighter integration with traditional Symantec products

* Completely revamped user interface – simpler and more interactive

* New service and change management and integrated workflow capabilities for more IT automation

* Hierarchy management

* More powerful and flexible Web reporting

* Improved installation and administration

Workflow technology (via the acquisition of Transparent Logic Technologies, or T-Logic) is another cornerstone technology for Symantec. Altiris Workflow is the business process automation engine for the Altiris systems management products. Customers can automate configuration and service management to reduce the cost and complexity of managing IT resources. For example, when a new hire comes into the company, entering him into the system can trigger a series of tasks and processes that can be highly automated, such as ordering him a new workstation, installing his required applications based on his business role, assigning security and network access rights, creating workspace on shared storage, and so on. Each step in the workflow can trigger specific actions, many of which can be fully automated to reduce the amount of IT intervention required to provide what the user needs.

The big announcement at ManageFusion was that Symantec is fully acquiring its long-time development partner AppStream. It’s almost a non-announcement, though, as AppStream already provides its application streaming technology to Symantec, which you’ll find embedded in Altiris Software Virtualization Solution Professional, or SVS Pro. Bringing AppStream in-house will allow Symantec to better position endpoint management and endpoint virtualization together and provide a strong alternative to Microsoft/Citrix and VMware/Thinstall for virtualized desktop applications.

Symantec also announced significant updates to Altiris Deployment Solution and Ghost Solution Suite. Available now, Deployment Solution 6.9 adds the following capabilities:

* A single management console for both virtual and physical OS deployment that includes enhanced VMware ESX Server scripted installations

* Role and scope-based security, based on admin login credentials, which provides granular IT access, more security, ease of use, and less chance for human error

* New platform support: Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008; VMware ESX Server 3.5; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.6 and 5.1; Macintosh OS X 10.5 (Leopard); Windows CE 6.0 Thin Client

* Interoperability with Symantec Ghost imaging

* Automated, rip and replace blade server provisioning

The update to Ghost Solution Suite 2.5 will be coming out in this first half of 2008 and is expected to include:

* DeployAnywhere hardware-independent imaging automation

* Full-disk encryption support

* Effortless physical to virtual, and virtual to physical image creation

* Secure disk decommission for data wipe and protection (U.S. Department of Defense compliant). 

Greg Bryant, general manager of Intel's digital office platform division, shared the keynote stage as he discussed the tighter integration between the Intel vPro processor technology and a number of Altiris products. With the vPro processor in a desktop or portable device, a systems manager can reach out and manage that box, even if it is turned off or totally dead. vPro provides hardware level manageability, so network management and security aren’t dependent upon a software agent on a device.

To get more information about what happened at ManageFusion 2008 Las Vegas, visit the conference blog. To join the online community of Altiris users, visit Altiris Juice.

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