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PowerQuest set to launch latest in lifecycle management

Is PowerQuest's PowerDeploy Suite the right tool for IT departments facing an avalanche of Windows 2000 and XP desktop upgrades? Beta users weigh in.

With the impending release of Microsoft's Windows XP and the current migrations to Windows 2000, a lot of IT departments have their hands full upgrading the end-users' machines. Enter Orem, Utah-based PowerQuest Corp., which announced the release of its PowerQuest PowerDeploy 2.0 Suite.

The PowerDeploy Suite consists of three main modules, DeployCenter, Migration Manager and DataGone, which handle imaging and deployment, system migration, management of system updates and system retirement. The suite is available as a package or in stand-alone modules, according to Rajeev Danank, product line manager for the Deploy products at PowerQuest.

DeployCenter 5.0 provides the core of the PowerDeploy Suite, Danank said. It covers the imaging and deployment needs of a customer, whether the customer is a small or a large business.

Imaging is important because, if a company has 100 machines and needs to upgrade to Windows 2000, instead of going to each computer and installing the software individually, a complete Windows 2000 environment, including desktop software, can be prepared on one computer. An image can be taken of this computer and sent to the 100 target machines, which will be updated automatically, he said.

"Not only can the system administrator do the update at the same time, he doesn't need to be on the premises. It can be accomplished over the Internet," Danank said.

Another part of DeployCenter is Delta Deploy, which allows users to upgrade or update software on a network incrementally, Danank said.

DeployCenter "is more encompassing, quicker, easier to use and has a better interface," said beta tester Keith Furman, manager of information technology at New York-based Previously, he had used ImageCast and Symantec's Ghost.

"One of the really cool things (about Deploy Center) is that it has a subset of tools similar to Partition Magic, but is not ghosting stuff. The control over the partitions is easy to use," he said. Furman didn't find anything dissatisfying about DeployCenter.

Migration Manager, the second component, allows the technician to capture personality settings on a system and store them in a profile, which can then be transferred to other systems on the network, according to Danank.

DataGone is the third component, which manages the last part of a computer's lifecycle -- disposal. It allows data to be completely erased from the hard disk and supports different writing techniques used by the U.S. Department of Defense, Danank said.

The interface is Web-based, and ControlCenter ST, the central point of control for the PowerDeploy Suite, allows a system administrator to handle task scheduling and upgrades over the Web via a secure link, he added. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are supported for remote machines that need to be upgraded.

Another beta tester was not as enchanted with PowerDeploy as a whole. "I do like the program and what it's able to do, but it's early in the development process, so once it's been updated and (PowerQuest has) added features, I think it will be better," said Loren Striegel, network administrator at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill. "For someone who already has the Web (server) up and running, it would be easier."

One of the problems was the permissions directory in the Web server, he said. Striegel had difficulty installing the software, and believes that it would be difficult for someone to learn to use. It took five or six tries for the software to be installed properly, he said. The campus NT administrators might also have difficulty.

There is a list of features that could be improved in PowerDeploy. Striegel would like to see a way to check the permissions of the directory to install Web support files; a way to log in, not just wake up the machine remotely; an option for the administrator to warn the user before a shutdown; an immediate Web interface so the administrator will be kept updated on the status of a task; and for image gathering, a graphical interface to ensure that the correct partition number of a drive is being entered, he said.

PowerQuest is planning to support Microsoft Windows XP once it is released. Pricing depends on the number of modules and licensing, and the current Windows 2000 support is available later this month worldwide, with support for English, German, French and Japanese.

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