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Windows systems administrators eye cheaper system management tools

A new, lower-cost alternative to Microsoft systems management tools from SolarWinds offers patch management and remote management.

Windows systems administrators are getting some new, lower-cost options for systems management as one network management company expands its portfolio through acquisition.

SolarWinds, best known for its Orion network management software, has acquired two companies this week that offer Windows systems administrators cheap patch management and remote management for servers, desktops and laptops.

The company acquired Houston-based EminentWare’s Windows server and workstation patch management software now called SolarWinds Patch Management. It is available immediately. The Patch Management product joins existing performance and availability products for server and application management from SolarWinds. It detects and remedies un-patched and mis-configured systems.

SolarWinds user Bill Hill, infrastructure IT lead for a Portland-based logistics company, said the acquisition intrigues him due to the possibility of using the tool with Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to keep non-Microsoft code such as Adobe and Java up to date.

“We have an application that requires a specific version of Java,” he said. “Providing security updates while staying within the functional level is a pain at scale. Using a management utility significantly reduces the potential for getting the version out of compliance.”

SolarWinds Patch Management can plug in to SCCM or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), or it can replace them at a lower price.

“Our mission is to go into a market and commoditize it,” said Denny LeCompte, vice president of SolarWinds product management.

Of course, SolarWinds isn’t the only game in town. Shavlik, acquired by VMware Inc. last May, Kaseya International Ltd. and GFI Software also offer patch management products.

The SolarWinds product starts at $1,195 for 100 nodes, including the first year of maintenance. SCCM, meanwhile, is being folded into System Center 2012, which is available in only two editions, Standard and Datacenter. For the new Datacenter bundle, the list price is $3,607 per socket.

“Workstation and server management are a major pain point for us and a primary goal for the first and second quarter [of this year],” said Hill. “We are itching to get our hands on System Center 2012 suite. However, this may change the game a little as SolarWinds is the incumbent [in our environment].”

Dameware remote management tools reintroduced
In December, SolarWinds also acquired certain assets of DameWare Development LLC, a Louisiana-based company that makes remote management tools.

Two products are being offered by SolarWinds immediately: DameWare Mini Remote Control (MRC) performs Windows remote management via an agent which installs on demand and uninstalls after use for $99. NT Utilities, at $349 per license, provides a centralized interface for remote management of Windows servers, workstations, desktops and laptops.

Finally, SolarWinds will be reaching out to systems admins with another new product offering later this quarter: SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, a renaming of a product previously called Application Performance Monitor (APM). This product allows monitoring of Windows, Unix and Kinux servers as well as services, operating systems and applications within them. SAM will start at $2,495 for 50 monitors, including the first year of maintenance.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at [email protected].

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