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Altiris expands non-Windows support

The server management software maker refreshes its platform with support for more flavors of Unix and Linux.

Management software vendor Altiris Inc. this week released a new version of its server management software that will add support for additional Linux and Unix platforms, and makes improvements to its patch management capability.

The company's Server Management Suite 6.0 can now monitor versions of Unix and Linux versions made by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Red Hat Inc., respectively. Altiris also said it has simplified its

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Read about Altiris' plans to improve its support.


See earlier coverage of Altiris' acquisition of Wise Solutions.

patch analysis, dependency checking and targeting capabilities. Finally, the company will offer custom deployment and management of servers made by Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Inc., Fujitsu Siemens Computers and IBM server blades.

Analysts said that for Altiris, expanded platform and hardware support is important, particularly as the company is forced to be more independent. "Altiris was successful with its [Hewlett-Packard] relationship, but now that HP has acquired Novadigm [Inc., an Altiris competitor], it rightly concerns them," said Galen Schrek, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., consulting firm. "They will want a more advanced [product] that covers more platforms."

A mirror of features for Windows

Altiris CTO Dwain Kinghorn said Altiris has done a lot of work to make Linux and Unix support more consistent with what Altiris does for Windows. The monitoring features give customers a central view of how each system performs. There are also some enhancements to monitoring features for Windows, particularly a better indication of when something goes out of the norm, he said.

"Before, the administrator had to work harder in terms of the specifics of the threshold to be tracked," Kinghorn said.

The improvements to patch management include the ability to have the various OS dependencies figured out automatically. Administrators no longer have to correlate patches to the targeted machines, Kinghorn said.

Kinghorn said pricing will start at $253 per managed server.

At least one early customer lauds improvements made to the patch management features of 6.0 from 5.5, but would still like the product to be more intuitive. Kevin Little, director of facilities and technology at the Lafayette School Corp., of Lafayette, Ind., recently installed the software on about 1,200 computers. He compares Altiris patching with that of Shavlik Technologies LLC, which uses an agent-based approach. The Altiris patching tools, while good, are somewhat more manual, he said.

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