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Issues on the horizon

Jan 23, 20062 mins
Data Center

A summary of trends that have an effect on desktop management.

Technology advances by vendors are having an interesting effect on the desktop-management field. Trends that have an effect on desktop-management include:

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Not all of the desktop-management vendors we tested support AMT with their current versions. LANDesk and Altiris lead the way with integrating AMT support. Novell takes advantage of AMT if it’s present in its Linux Management product to provision Linux servers and blades. You could provision a Windows server using the same process from the ZENworks 7 Linux Management offering.

The Cisco Network Access Control (NAC) effort takes security a step further: It aims to prevent an infected machine from connecting to the corporate network. While several products we tested provide full support for NAC, it does require a certain level of hardware support, which means you will need to have fairly recent Cisco network hardware along with the latest software updates. LANDesk takes this an extra step by implementing the same concept without relying on Cisco hardware.

Cisco also recently announced a collaboration effort with Intel to integrate the AMT capabilities on the desktop with the NAC infrastructure in its routers and switches. A key capability of this will be out-of-band operating system independent detection and repair of client machines.


Microsoft has made security a primary focus of virtually everything it does. Windows XP Service Pack 2 adds a number of new security features that have helped cut down the number and types of attacks targeted at Windows machines, but not without a price. Most of the desktop-management products we tested will not be able to do such tasks as discover new computers if SP2 is loaded with the default security settings. The workaround is to turn off some of the security features of SP2.


Intel announced plans to add virtualization capabilities into the next generation of its CPUs. Microsoft and VMware continue to turn out new releases of Virtual PC and VMware workstation products, with VMware also partnering with IBM and Citrix on an infrastructure product involving a virtualized hosted client. Managing multiple VM images and clients running different images will be a new challenge for the products we tested.


Paul Ferrill has been writing about computers and networking for more than 25 years. He's had articles published in InfoWorld, Network World, PC Magazine, and a wide range of other publications. He's also the author of two books and currently working on a third.

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