PC-Duo is a collection of applications covering remote control, Helpdesk, inventory control and software distribution, software metering and system diagnostics. This very much a management-oriented system, with the ability to generate comprehensive reports on those aspects of most concern to line and middle management. The remote control software is a customised version of the NetSupport Manager application, with its range of operating modes, file transfer and scripting facilities.
The hub the system is the Enterprise console, which is a plug-in for the Microsoft Management Console. Once installed it gives access to every aspect of the PC-Duo system. The system not only offers a range of useful administration functions but it also provides a number of predefined reports.
The inventory system maintains a database of hardware and software information for each PC, and can be updated on demand. An additional and useful feature is the system's ability to analyse installed software and report on the compliance status on each system. Apart from its obvious use in monitoring licensing issues, it also has an additional security benefit, since it will also detect and report software that it does not recognise. Software in this category may include programs that the enterprise would prefer not to have on the network, perhaps for legal or security reasons. A useful adjunct to this system is its ability to monitor and report software usage throughout the network
There is a system that allows software to be packaged and distributed to clients across the network. This is a comprehensive system that caters for most eventualities, although it does rely on each target system checking to see if there are any packages for it to install. This will occur at scheduled times or when the target reboots, which could produce some interesting spikes in the network usage statistics.
A web-based Helpdesk system is provided which requires Microsoft Internet Information Services at the server, and uses either Access or SQL server for the database. With a web-based architecture, help desk facilities can be accessed from any connected machine that has a suitable browser. Although the system would normally operate as an Intranet application, it could easily be set up to allow Internet access as well, which could be very useful in some cases.
A key area of the system is a shared directory, referred to as the "Offline Area". Client PCs use this directory to store inventory data that is later retrieved by the central system. The package distribution process also stores packages here for later collection by client PCs. The system will support several of these areas for larger networks.
: It has comprehensive reporting and help desk systems.
: The Offline Area shared directory is a potential weak spot.
: It addresses both support and management issues, and has excellent reporting facilities.