Review: Dynamic Network Administration

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This product is not designed to be a patch management application, but its software distribution capabilities can be used to roll out fixes, updates and service packs.<

This product is not designed to be a patch management application, but its software distribution capabilities can be used to roll out fixes, updates and service packs.

DNA uses hardware and software inventories to offer features such as application and license monitoring with helpdesk and client remote-control functions. Lacking the dedicated patch management features of LANDesk and sophistication of Altiris, DNA does not provide supporting information on the patches, but is more useful if used with Microsoft's SUS.

DNA goes beyond other non-patching management packages in its tab for Hot Fixes. Fixes are listed and annotated with a tick for successful application, a query for patches that may have been partially overwritten by subsequent patches, or a cross if application failed. This makes it clear which patches have been applied to clients isolated from all the other applications and point upgrades that may be applied.

Installation is complicated by the need to pre-configure SQL Server prior to loading DNA. Companies such as LANDesk and Altiris provide a checklist to make sure prerequisites are installed, and both offer Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Edition as part of installation.

Once the administration software is loaded and the client agents are deployed, the console discovers all the Windows clients on the network. This can be done globally or restricted to specific IP address ranges. Although it means extra work and maintenance, the gathered information can be supplemented with user-specific data, including name, department, email address and telephone numbers. The asset can also be documented. Even if these records are not fully populated, it can be useful for labeling key desktops and servers.

Bar graphs and pie charts can be generated using Crystal Reports. This makes it easier to understand detailed information, but these are limited to Adobe Acrobat PDFs and Microsoft Word or Excel. All can be downloaded by others, but XML and http support would make web-based reporting easier.

What DNA does, it does well, and with a bit of thought, this could grow to be a fine patch management tool.

For:

: At least it makes an attempt to isolate some patch information.


Against:

: No real support specifically targeting patch management. Patches have to be packaged for implementation.


Verdict:

: DNA only offers rudimentary support. A good companion to monitor a dedicated patch manager from within the DNA environment.

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