Vector release helps net managers keep track

One of the biggest changes in the newest desktop management software from Vector Networks goes far beyond what’s inside the package, says the company’s marketing director.

Duluth, Ga.-based Vector has released its LANutil v5.1 desktop management software which features a passive metering tool, allowing network managers to record, evaluate and reduce wasted license fees for underused programs, and stay in compliance with employed applications. New developments came from a “dramatic” change in the way this product was developed, said Vector marketing director Colin Bartram.

“One of the things that has changed dramatically about this product is the size of the team who is committed to it,” Bartram said. “We more than quadrupled the size of the core team developing it. That has enabled us to take big steps forward.”

The update addresses a balance that companies are eager to achieve – it’s important to stay legally licensed on software, but paying maintenance for unused software is expensive.

The new version also includes a site creation wizard, which has been revamped with more defaults and automates more stages of the initial site database build than did its predecessor. The auto-population phase that follows site creation makes it easier to get a set of evaluation PCs into the database, with little action required by the evaluator.

“Standing back and looking at this product, one of the things that has been fundamental to us this time around is something you don’t really see, that the database underpins the whole thing,” Bartram added.

The new version is supported with transport support for both SQL server and Oracle, which gives more scalability, he explained.

“That’s been missing for a while, and when you get thousands of PCs in a database, it is easy to submerge a customer with rich data,” he said. “Everyone gets keener and keener on seeing the changes.”

The Package Policy Manager is redefined and enables managers to define ideal application package deployments and identify rogue PCs. Comprehensive compliance reports filter out all cases where PCs and the software installed on them are incorrect.

A SQL wizard enables customers to define custom views on the database and asset database operation records and stores any type of IT-related asset. The product’s database viewer enables customers to construct their own views onto the LANutil Site Database.

Diana Rowland, technical product specialist/IT at Markham Stouffville Hospital, has recently implemented a similar Vector product, the PC-Duo Plus, on 500 machines in the Ontario-based institution. She liked the security features highlighted on her product and on the new upgrade.

“We have to have a secure audit trail so we can know when someone is on someone’s machine,” she said. “In a hospital, we have very high standards about patient information and confidentiality. That was a priority.”

Another priority test was ease of installation, which Rowland said the product passed with flying colours.

“We haven’t had any difficulties at all,” she said. “Any questions I wasn’t sure about, I could just phone down to technical support and they were great with timely answers.”

Fred Brassard, senior research analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said many features of the new version are consistent with IT organizations wanting integrated product suites that allow them to do multiple things.

“But they don’t want that suite to be a giant, all-encompassing suite that does everything for them,” he said. “They want to do multiple things, simply and easily.”

He added that the new version’s ability to get up and running quickly is a good selling feature.

“The SQL wizard, I am not personally sure how useful that is going to be, but there is some functionality here that is useful to companies,” he said.

The LANutil 5.1 is now available for 30-day free download and is priced at $990 for licensing for 10 PCs and $250 a year for maintenance. The company is on the Web at