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Executive Editor

Symantec adds tools to pcAnywhere

Jun 02, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsPatch Management SoftwareRemote Access

The latest upgrade of Symantec’s pcAnywhere introduces eight management tools that the company says streamline communication with remote machines so help-desk staff can handle more calls per day.

The latest upgrade of Symantec’s pcAnywhere introduces eight management  tools that the company says streamline communication with remote machines so help desk staff can handle more calls per day.

Version 11 accomplishes this by automating previously manual commands and by reducing the amount of data that has to travel between local and remote machines.

Rather than setting up a full remote-control session, the software runs an application  such as Regedit (for editing registry files) locally and populates it with data gathered from the remote host. In earlier versions of pcAnywhere, users would have to initiate remote-control sessions on the remote server or PC, then issue commands to it directly.

Such capabilities are important to help desks, which have suffered staffing cuts and reduced training, says Rob Enderle, vice president and research fellow at Giga Information Group. “Because of the complexity of the [pre-Version 11] product, people would buy it and didn’t use it because it was relatively hard to do,” he says.

One long-time pcAnywhere user says he will phase out use of another tool called Ideal Management from AMT Software . “If I’ve got one tool that does it all, I’m going to use that,” says Brian Cook, field services engineer for railroad supplier Wabtec in Wilmerding, Pa., who tested a beta version of the new pcAnywhere. He says the speed of connecting to remote hosts is improved with Version 11.

The speed is partly the result of a new feature called Quick Connect that requires only entering a remote-access phone number, IP address or machine name. The software then completes the link.

Another major revision is the user interface, which looks and behaves much like that of Windows XP, making it possible to change the size of toolbars and the window that represents the remote host screen. “In the previous version you had to finagle different screen sizes between the host and the remote-control machine,” says Steve Ochsner, president of Workbench Software, a banking software developer.

The pcAnywhere update also enforces security policies and restricts access by leveraging Windows policy-management features, the company says. It also supports RSA  SecurID authentication.

PcAnywhere 11 adds a feature that lets a user queue up file transfers even while an individual file is being transferred. Previously, users had to wait for a transfer to finish before manually queuing the next. With a feature called Command Queue, users can combine file transfers with DOS commands so an executable file or Microsoft Install file can be sent and automatically installed on a remote machine, making it easier to upgrade software or install software patches (see graphic ).

The software also lets users group machine objects in files so they can be organized by department or geographic location. The only option before was lumping them all together.

PcAnywhere competes with management software suites that include remote-control functionality from vendors such as HP and IBM. Microsoft also embeds remote-control technology in its operating systems.

PcAnywhere 11.0 costs roughly $200 per license, up $20 from the price of the previous version.