Here are the influential voices leading the conversations where nonprofits and technology overlap.
A good, properly configured asset management program is worth its weight in gold. Network administrators who have used one know it can pay for itself many times over.
In most cases, IT managers will save money by automating day-to-day asset management tasks rather than having a staff member perform those functions. Absolute Manage (formerly LANrev) could be that management system; I'm certainly considering making it mine.
One of Absolute Manage's best features is its invisibility to end users. Most of the people using the network's resources won't even know it's there. The software's feature set is plentiful, covering everything from license management to imaging — all from a single interface.
With it, IT managers can provide technical support quickly and easily using industry-standard remote control tools. Integration with most tools is built-in and easy to implement. Commands and scripts can be pushed out to all systems in the management console at once, saving time and money without compromising users' computing experience.
Application delivery is equally flexible. IT staff can distribute applications to networked devices as scheduled jobs or allow users to complete the installations at their convenience. Patches also can be configured to deploy automatically.
Absolute Manage is a cross-platform solution that can manage both Mac and Windows clients. This, I feel, is one of its greatest features. Unfortunately, agent installs don't enjoy that same functionality.
Still, network administrators are always looking to save time. And having access to Absolute Manage, which can install the latest version of a software without requiring IT staff to touch every desk, makes life easier. Among other benefits, the solution lets administrators create different levels of users in the admin console.
Keeping track of all company-owned software can be burdensome. But with Absolute Manage, IT staff can track installations to ensure no user is using more licenses than the company owns and even kill processes that would violate license agreements.
Power management is a standard feature for which many competitors charge extra. But with Absolute Manage's built-in power management reporting and policies, administrators can force computers into a sleep (or off) state when they aren't in use.
Hardware requirements for the Absolute Manage server aren't restrictive, eliminating the need to purchase expensive new hardware. While testing, I installed the server on a Windows 7 Professional desktop and didn't encounter any performance disruptions. Installation was a breeze. Plus, the product has very good documentation and an easier learning curve than many of its competitors.
I wasn't thrilled with the admin console user interface, which opened many commands in a new window. It also wasn't particularly intuitive or easy to navigate.
As I noted previously, client agents need to be deployed from the platform on which they originate. In testing, I encountered some difficulties while deploying the Windows 7 agent because of the operating system's User Account Control feature. But it was easy enough to sidestep this problem: I simply consulted the manual for the recommended work-around. I don't necessarily consider this limitation a product shortfall; it's just the nature of the system onto which it was being installed.