Admin Arsenal is an affordable systems management and monitoring solution for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Its publisher, Brisworks, raffles five free licenses, each worth $399, for 4sysops readers. Admin Arsenal isn't licensed per client machine as many other system management tools are; you just need a license for every administrator who will use the tool. I tested Admin Arsenal and was surprised at how easy systems management can be. I could start working immediately without even consulting the manual.
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Admin Arsenal offers the most important systems management functions: software and hardware inventory, software deployment, and remote management. Furthermore, it has essential monitoring features such as performance counters and event log monitoring. It doesn't support OS deployment or patch management; however, considering that Microsoft offers two "free" SMB tools for this purpose, i.e., Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), this is not really a shortcoming.
Admin Arsenal supports all Windows versions after Windows 2000, and the administration console requires .NET 2.0. All managed computers have to be Active Directory domain members. Installing Admin Arsenal is only a matter of minutes. The configuration wizard initializes the tool in a few steps. You just have to select the Windows domain, configure the e-mail address to which Admin Arsenal will send alerts, and specify the account for the background service. Best of all is that you don't have to deploy agents to client computers.
What I like about Admin Arsenal is that it uses Active Directory to discover computers. Thus it doesn't have to scan the network for new clients. Moreover, Admin Arsenal doesn't maintain a separate database for computer objects. The advantage of this is that it can discover machines that are offline and, whenever you add a new domain member, Admin Arsenal has immediate access to it. By the way, this is what I dislike about enterprise systems management solutions such as Microsoft Configuration Manager. Client discovery is sluggish and there is always a discrepancy between the computer objects in Active Directory and the internal database.
Admin Arsenal also has its own database, where it stores inventory data. The one-way synchronization interval is configurable and is 15 minutes by default. You can also determine how often client computers are scanned for software and hardware changes. Inventory takes place once each day and online status (heartbeat) is checked every five minutes by default.
In my next posts I will describe Admin Arsenal's inventory, software deployment, management, and monitoring features. Don't hesitate to try the tool yourself in the meantime. You don't even have to register to download the free trial.
If you would like to have a chance to win one of the five licenses, you only have to respond to the following:
Describe the biggest challenge that you face as a Windows system administrator.
Your answer will help Brisworks improve Admin Arsenal. Please send your response to with your name and the name of your organization to:
I will draw lots among all submissions to decide who gets the sponsored licenses. The deadline is April 30, 2009.