Tactical Advice

Review: Symantec Altiris Asset Management Suite 7.1

Suite keeps a close eye on IT hardware and software.
Review: Symantec Altiris Asset Management Suite 7.1

Managing vendor contracts, controlling hardware and software costs and optimizing IT assets to meet organizational requirements constitute critical chores for IT professionals. Symantec's Altiris Asset Management Suite 7.1 aims to remove the hassle from IT asset management by giving enterprises the detailed information they need to make smart, informed decisions. Such tools are a necessity in today's cost-conscious workplace.

Altiris Asset Management Suite (AMS) culls data from Symantec's Client Management Suite (CMS) and Server Management Suite (SMS). AMS also integrates with similar Microsoft discovery tools so IT departments can tap installed investments.

Advantages

IT departments often find it tough to tease out relationships between hardware, software, associated contracts, end users and user groups. Altiris AMS takes away the pain of guessing who has what system, who has what installed on their system and when their licenses are due for renewal.

The downloadable suite provides a wizard that assesses whether a system meets the minimum product requirements and will add any missing applications if prompted — a cool feature that saves the administrator time during installation. After ensuring that my hardware met the minimum product requirements prior to the installation, AMS downloaded successfully. The installation and initial setup were painless.

Why It Works for IT

AMS's user interface logically divides hardware and software. An application metering capability provides insight into which applications have been installed, which have been paid for and which are being used. Such information makes this a real cost-cutting tool for IT.

IT managers can also see the full cradle-to-grave lifecycle of an asset, including contracts of all types associated with hardware and software, purchase orders, service-level agreements, warranties and even retirement and disposal documentation.

Administrators can calculate total cost of ownership by factoring in discoverable data such as purchase costs, monthly maintenance fees or chargeback costs. It's possible to customize AMS to include fields specific to an organization and also add non-discoverable information to an asset, such as an additional cost center.

It's also possible to designate who may view asset information by groups, which proves useful for security. For example, IT staff can limit asset visibility of a branch office to authorized people in that office.

Disadvantages

AMS is optimized for and depends heavily on its associated Symantec discovery tools, CMS and SMS. Figuring out these dependencies may take a bit of time and some experimentation. According to Symantec, most deployments consist of AMS coupled with CMS.

 

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