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Altiris-Symantec to begin product integration in April

Christina Torode, Editorial Director

Altiris will be the primary provider of support for its products even after Symantec and the systems management vendor begin to integrate their product lines this spring.

The vendors' integration plans -- as to which products will stay and if some will go -- are still unknown. Symantec-Altiris will make its product integration plans public beginning in April, said Mark Magee, director of product marketing at Lindon, Utah-based Altiris Inc.

"The acquisition has already been passed through regulatory approval, and following the shareholders meeting on April 4, the deal will close and we will move fairly quickly," Magee said.

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Altiris, which will run as a separate business unit of Symantec Corp. once the acquisition is approved, will continue to support its code, product offerings and customers moving forward, even as Altiris' products are integrated with Symantec's, Magee said.

But some industry pundits are still waiting for solid moves by Symantec before they are convinced Altiris will remain a separate entity and not just another security or storage add-on as many other Symantec acquisition have become.

"Saying [Altiris] is going to continue supporting products is one thing, actually seeing Symantec give Altiris control over product development of the company's management solution and not as an augment to security or storage is another," said Fred Broussard, analyst with Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

Another sign that would make him believe that Altiris will remain in control of its own destiny is if key executives such as CEO Greg Butterfield stays in a management position and Altiris' sales staff is not replaced by Symantec's sales staff.

"They need to send some strong signals that they are serious about the Altiris acquisition, such as not firing sales staff under the guise of redundancy," he said.

Altiris is steadily moving forward with its own product development in the meantime, with the launch this week of an Application Compatibility Suite for Vista deployments. The suite helps find Vista incompatibilities with existing legacy, homegrown or commercial applications and offers remediations such as its Software Virtualization Solution (SVS).

SVS allows applications not compatible with Vista to continue to run in an isolated Windows environment. A new feature in the suite is the Application Control Solution. It helps IT managers pinpoint incompatibilities between legacy and commercial applications and Vista, and it modifies user access controls in applications running in older Windows environments.

Altiris Wise Package Studio, which packages or repackages applications as a Windows Installer for Vista installations, will also be part of the bundle.

The suite will be available by the second quarter of this year when SVS is expected to become Vista ready.

"Seventy percent of our customers are telling us that their biggest Vista migration hurdle is application incompatibility," Magee said.

Microsoft recently came out with a bundle of free Vista migration tools including Hardware Assessment 1.0, which connects to PCs over a network, inventories hardware and device compatibility with Vista and produces a report including upgrade recommendations for each PC. The bundle also includes full versions of Volume Activation Management Tool 2.0, Key Management Service for Windows Server 2003 and Virtual PC 2007.


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