RealTime IT News

CA Modifies Desktop DNA

Computer Associates (CA) is about to take the wraps off its new Unicenter Desktop DNA r11, the first update of its desktop management offering since it bought Miramar Systems in March 2004.

Slated for release Tuesday, Desktop DNA captures application and system settings, user profiles and data files of individual employee computer stations and holds them in a central server, which helps make hardware or operating system migrations a snap.

"We have very robust filter functionality in the first place but with the new compliance regulations that are out there, like Sarbanes-Oxley, you really need to be able to save all of your data and ensure that the data you get the data from that user's machine, no matter where they have put it," said Laural Gentry, a CA product manager for Desktop DNA.

The latest incarnation of Desktop DNA features its newfound ability to schedule incremental and recurring DNA captures. Normally, a DNA capture of one computer will take up to 45 minutes, for a data file that's usually about 2 GB in size.

With Desktop DNA r11, computers will still have to undergo that initial capture, but IT administrators can later schedule recurring update times, like in the middle of the night when most people are away from work (but it only collects changes to the computer's DNA file).

Client system management today remains a challenging problem for IT administrators, said Michael Dortch, principal business analyst at the Robert Frances Group advisory firm. While everything might run smoothly in the data center, delivering consistent support for the PC requires far more relative effort.

"In an age where 'TCO' now means 'take costs out,' and 'ROI' means 'reducing the odds of incarceration,' the Unicenter Desktop DNA solution could be a significant boon to IT executives supporting enterprise initiatives related to cost reduction, regulatory compliance, and risk mitigation," he said.

Another new feature in the product is the ability to allow administrators to exclude migration by drive type -- whether it's a local, removable or network drive.

Other improvements include:

  • DNA Explorer - Administrators can now take files from any previous revision and apply them automatically.
  • DNA Template Editor - the tool used to create templates for individual departments or groups is now XML-based , allowing for more customization.
  • Data inclusion/exclusion filters - use environment variables to define file and folder migration, as well as user-level filters, dynamically.
  • Apache Web server and Network Appliance as alternative server storage options.
  • Remote troubleshooting and restoring of user PC information.
  • Improved look-and-feel preservation, including screen resolution and icons.

Some of these improvements are more of a necessity in today's environment than in the past.

Dortch said CA's Desktop DNA should deliver a business benefit to almost any enterprise.

"It will be interesting to see how enterprises take advantage of the features of the latest release of the software, especially those planning significant PC refresh or migration initiatives and those initiating or expanding deployments of Microsoft's Active Directory solution," he said. "Regardless, though, anything that increases IT's knowledge of and control over enterprise IT assets such as client systems is a good thing."

CA officials said the first release was a re-branding of the Miramar product with the CA logo; the updates in this version were part of the product's original roadmap.

The company sells the software through its direct sales force and through its global reseller channel starting at $22 per node for 100 nodes.