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Dos and don'ts: Rejuvenate your desktop infrastructure

Meredith B. Derby, News Writer

If you're thinking of overhauling your current client-server infrastructure because it is slow or out-of-date, hang on. See what you can get out of it first, desktop management expert Peter Briggs advised. "Don't throw PCs and servers away," he said. There's life in the old infrastructure, if you manage it wisely.

In this article, Briggs -- President of Windows management software vendor Vector Networks, Staffordshire, England -- offers his dos and don'ts to getting the most out of your desktop infrastructure.

"Don't blow your software budget," said Briggs. Money is wasted if extraneous licenses are bought for underused software. Develop processes for charting department-specific software requirements. It is important for the network manager to understand the individual needs of these groups, he said. That understanding will help managers identify and redistribute unused applications and not renew licenses for disabled applications.

Do know your assets. Managing a network of hundreds or thousands of desktops can be daunting, Briggs said. "As an IT manager, digestible and accurate hardware and software inventory data is essential to the IT department's success and budget objectives," he said. So, audit hardware and software asset information regularly.

"Do more with less," said Briggs. "That's the catchphrase of the 21st century." As budgets tighten and staff size is reduced, the IT department needs to increase productivity across the

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board. Carefully manage software and software update distribution throughout the network.

Do implement information filters. Desktop management systems generate huge amounts of data, "more than you can possibly handle," said Briggs. For example, a network administrator with 20 pieces of software on 3,000 PCs will have 60,000 "items of information" in the inventory relating to around 200 total applications, he explained. "Make sure the tools you use produce focused information on which you can act," he said.

Do use remote management tools. "It is next to impossible to run a sizable IT department without remote capabilities to control the desktops and servers," Briggs said. Whether it's via LAN, WAN or Internet, remote administration is key to help desk support, training and telecommuting. Keep your IT staff at their desks, rather than flying across the globe to help remote workers, said Briggs. This will save hundreds of hours in staff time and deliver faster more efficient service.

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