Is Effective Desktop Management Possible?

With some planning, you bet! An IT veteran outlines the factors to consider when you are inevitably tasked (or burdened) with managing and supporting your company's desktop systems.
I have been in the technology business more years than I am willing to admit. However, I will say I do long for the good ol' days when all one had to worry about were the 3270 green-screen terminals in the accounting department.

Up until a couple of years ago, I was able to dodge the bullet and steer clear of the desktop arena. Then came that fateful day in October when I was summoned into the corner office.

Seems that while I was relaxing on my fishing trip the week before, our Desktop Services Manager decided to go in search of bigger and better things... outside the company. My boss, being the good person that he is, decided it would be a good idea for yours truly to absorb the Desktop Services department. Needless to say I was ''ecstatic''.

Or maybe the proper term is ''in a state of panic''.

Assess the Situation

After I was back within the safe confines of my office and regained my composure, I began to review the real issues associated with desktop management. After carefully assessing the situation and spending time with my desktop support team, I determined there were five major categories I must tackle. These included Asset Management, Software Management, Operating System (OS) Management, Anti-Virus updates and break/fix or Desk Side support. These issues are not new and are not associated with any particular company. As a matter of fact these issues are common to almost every enterprise.

Quantify What You Must Manage

In regard to asset management, I needed the ability to track an asset from the time it arrived on my receiving dock until such time that it was to be retired. I also needed to be able to track software license compliance and be able to determine if end users were violating company policy by downloading or installing software on their own. The biggest challenge was to be able to quickly deploy OS and anti-virus updates.

The easiest of the five categories, it turns out, was Desk Side Support as I had an outstanding technical team and a very good system, Clientele, to log and track support calls as well as service histories. At least I had something to start with.

Identify Automated Systems

To address the remainder of the issues, I needed a common management platform that would help my team tame this herd of cats I had just inherited. Also, the system must be easy to use and have the ability to communicate with other business systems using Application Program Interfaces (API).

Of course, there are a number of products in the marketplace that address each of these issues, however, there are not many that address them all. So rather than implement a number of systems and link them together, or worse, develop a in-house solution, I decided that the first criteria would be a tool that would handle all of my requirements, excluding a system to manage desk side support, which I already had in place.

There exist a number of systems including Altiris, Unicenter, and Marimba, all of which are great products, each with its particular strong points. At the end of the day, I decided on CA's Unicenter product mainly because the product has been around a long time and has matured nicely. Equally important, Unicenter fit in quite well with our existing business processes.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITplanet.com. To read the full article, click here.






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