Rolling out an enterprise-wide desktop management system is similar to building a house. Without a solid foundation and a good understanding of the fundamentals, frustration and problems usually creep in. However, if you can get past the complexity, price, and management challenges, a desktop management suite can give you a centralized set of tools that streamline administrative tasks and reduce the total cost of ownership of desktop systems.

In Network World (US)‘s recent shakedown of available desktop management systems, we found a class of mature products that embrace new and old industry specifications, such as Desktop Management Interface (DMI) and Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM). All the products we scrutinized offered hardware and software inventory; desktop configuration and remote control; and software distribution and licence metering to a variety of clients. One product dabbled in antivirus protection, as well.

Since our last look at these products in 1998, vendors have packed more useful features into their offerings, but a truly comprehensive product is not available yet. Users still have to make some trade-offs and possibly use more than one product to meet all their desktop management needs. And They must plan to devote a significant chunk of their time integrating their choices into their computing environment.

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