In my last post in this series, I discussed the concept behind ManageEngine Desktop Central. Today, I want to dig a little deeper and describe some of Desktop Central's capabilities. As outlined before, all management tasks are basically Configurations. There are two types of Configurations: User Configurations and Computer Configurations. Computer Configurations are applied during startup and User Configurations are applied during user logon. Both configurations are also applied every 90 minutes.
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This is the complete list of supported User Configurations: Alerts (password expiry, low system drive space, purge temp files), Display (wallpaper, name of computer icon, etc.), Environment Variables, Folder Redirection (Start Menu, My Documents, Desktop, etc.), Internet Explorer (home page, search page, proxy, etc.), Launch Application (run a program), MS Office (save folders, template folders, etc.), OS Search Paths, Power Management (all important settings), Secure USB (configure allowed USB device types: mouse, disk drive, etc.), Shared Printer, Custom Script (logon or logoff scripts), Drive Mapping, File Folder Operation (copy, rename, delete), Install/Uninstall Software, IP Printer (add/delete), Message Box, MS Outlook (most important settings), Permission Management (access control for files, folders, registry), Registry Settings (all hives), Security Policies (quite comprehensive, see screenshot), Shortcut (create or delete shortcuts on the desktop, start menu, quick launch bar, etc.)
I've listed all user Configurations here to give you an idea how comprehensive Desktop Central's abilities are. You might have noticed that there are some settings that you could manage through Group Policy. However, as I have noted before, the main idea about Desktop Central is to use one central tool for all kinds of desktop management tasks. The tool does not support all Group Policy settings but offers the most often used ones.
The number of Computer Configurations is comparable to one of the User Configurations. I won't list them all because I think that you've got the idea (see screenshot for a list). Some Configurations, such as File Folder Operations or Secure USB, are available for users and computers. I want to highlight one Computer Configuration because it is related to a topic I covered recently, that is the way the administrator account should be handled. Desktop Central allows you to remotely set the password of any account on multiple machines. In addition, you can add, remove, or modify users (all settings). It is also possible to manage user groups remotely.
Configurations can be grouped in so-called Collections. They have nothing to do with the collections you may know from other systems management solutions. The purpose of Desktop Central's Collections is to apply multiple Configurations to a target. Thus, if you have a computer group that is supposed to share several settings, you can create a Collection of Configurations and deploy it in one step.
Desktop Central comes with a full-blown patch management solution for Windows updates. The tool currently cannot update third-party software, but it appears ZOHO Corp. is planning to add this feature because they placed a link in the user interface to a form where you can request the support for non-Microsoft software. Patches are deployed as Computer Configurations.
The main difference to other Configurations is that there is a special tab that offers detailed reports about the update status of all the computers in the network. For example, you can generate a list of all healthy, vulnerable, highly vulnerable, or scanned computers. Furthermore, you can schedule tasks to scan clients for missing patches, download updates, or deploy patches. It also is possible to assign one or multiple specific updates to configurable targets.
Like patch management, software deployment has its own tab in Desktop Central's user interface. As noted before, a software deployment task can be a User or Computer Configuration. The software deployment tab lists all software deployment Configurations, regardless of their type.
This is also the place where you can configure packages. Packages can consist of MSIs or other executables together with a few settings, like scripts, that have to be executed before or after the installations.
It is interesting to note that installation files can either be placed on a network share or on a Web server. The latter option allows you to deploy software via HTTP. The software installation Configuration enables you to schedule deployment and to decide whether the installation takes place during the startup process or afterwards. You can also configure if the machine has to reboot afterwards or not.
Like with all other Configurations, software installation tasks are performed every 90 minutes or during startup if it is a Computer Configuration or when the user logs on if it is a User Configuration.
In my next post, I will discuss Desktop Central's inventory, reporting, and remote control features.
If you want the chance to win a license (worth $995) for Desktop Central, please send an email to:
with the subject ManageEngine Desktop Central. The deadline is July 12, 2009.
It would be great if you could answer the is question:
What type of reports should a client management tool have?
Update: Check out the new features of ManageEngine Desktop Central 7
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