The ScriptLogic Desktop Authority repertoire of client management functions we tested included standard hardware and software inventory, application deployment, remote control, patch management and centrally controlled desktop configuration features.
The newer features we examined in this test were its ability to watch for USB port usage, its tight integration with an included antispyware tool, and optional firewall functions, such as network address translation, that can be added to each desktop machine under its control. Additionally, at our behest, Desktop Authority powered down client PCs, regardless of whether users were logged on to the PCs. Missing in Desktop Authority's repertoire were a client backup/restore feature, an intrusion-detection feature, management of virtual machines, support for handhelds and -- significantly -- advanced license tracking and software usage metering.
Desktop Authority's asset inventory collected useful data, but we found that the other products tested did a better job of both collecting and presenting that data. Desktop Authority's forté was its ability to deploy and configure application software packages across our network. Desktop Authority MSI Studio, which was closely linked to the application deployment function, made quick work of creating a distributable application package. Deploying the package required only that we select the client targets and click to trigger the automatic distribution process. Particularly noteworthy was Desktop Authority's ability to not only configure each client machine at application deployment time but also refresh that client's configuration periodically, at intervals we could set, to ensure that our corporate standards and security policies were always enforced. As a nice touch, we could -- if we chose -- allow users to defer the installation of updates or the associated reboot of the client PC following an application package deployment. The Desktop Authority Image Center component did a good job of distributing operating images across the network, but it only supports Windows clients.
Each Desktop Authority agent consisted of several components: Antispyware, patch management, USB port watcher, client services for data inventory and network communications. Installing agents on desktop clients required changing logon scripts, so that Desktop Authority could take control of the client during the logon process. Unfortunately, Desktop Authority did not offer us an agent push option, nor did it support third-party antimalware products.
ScriptLogic says its Remote Management feature requires a Java-enabled browser supporting 128-bit encrypted SSL, in order to prevent eavesdropping on remote control session network traffic. We found that Desktop Authority's remote control, when hard-pressed to keep up with a barrage of activities, faltered somewhat and lacked the crisp responsiveness we expected.
If you have users who log on to different client machines from time to time and yet want a consistent Microsoft Exchange e-mail experience, you'll welcome Desktop Authority's ability to manage Exchange profiles. Desktop Authority automatically created mail profiles for our users as they roamed from PC to PC.
Desktop Authority's server component runs on Windows Server, while client desktops can run Windows 95/98/ME/NT 4/XP/2000/2003 (no Linux or Mac OS X support). The USB port usage detector worked only with Windows 2000 and Windows XP (exactly as the vendor claims). Having more than about 50 clients means you'll need to separately license SQL Server to use as Desktop Authority's client data repository.