LANDesk Software looks to span the gap in management of remote and distributed IT devices and applications with the introduction of the company's first hardware platform, the Management Gateway Appliance (MGA).
Announced on Wednesday, the MGA allows systems administrators to manage devices outside the local area network, serving as a "meeting place" where the appliance acts as a "broker" securely providing a SSL encrypted connection between the remote device and the LANDesk software management suite that is located on the LAN, said Nathan McLain, product manager for LANDesk.
The appliance extends management outside the LAN without the need for VPNs or a dedicated line, allowing a business to ensure remote devices such as laptop computers or equipment in remote branches can be updated with needed patches or application updates, he said, and extending LANDesk's Management Suite and Security Suite.
"It allows you to manage the infrastructure not only within the local area network, but also anywhere all around the world," McLain said. "The management gateway is directly addressing some the major pain points that IT administrators face today by providing anytime and anywhere management."
The appliance address the "big four" concerns facing IT administrators today, he said. The gateway handles inventory and asset management, software licensing monitoring, can accommodate remote control of end devices, and completes software distribution and patch management.
The development of the MGA was enabled in part by LANDesk's relationship with Avocent, which acquired LANDesk last year. APC leveraged sever management appliance knowledge within the Avocent portfolio to create the MGA, McLain said.
"IT manages are faced with supporting users that are constantly on the road, and have a critical need to enforce security policies on systems that are rarely if ever connected to the local area network," he said.
The growth in use of laptop computers is driving the desire for businesses to find simply and affordable methods of management. Forrester Research estimates that 68% of client computer purchases by 2008 will be in the form of laptop systems. For remote users and "road warriors" providing support can be piecemeal or require expensive and time consuming on-site IT staff visits to complete patching or for troubleshooting.
By using the gateway, the IT department can automatically and securing update patches and new application versions, and provide for remote access to the client systems to allow for maintenance on equipment in the field, McLain said.
LANDesk has been working with about a dozen beta customers for the gateway, including Exempla Health Care, a Denver-based health care agency with multiple hospital and office locations and users. The organization has about 4,000 mobile users, and Ed Skaff, IT manager for Exempla said use of the gateway has helped reduce typical help desk support calls from two hours to 15 minutes.
The MGA will be available on November 15, and is priced at $3,000.