Software will test PCs, servers for 2000 readiness

New releases of PC asset-management software will include BIOS and real-time clock
testing utilities that could help agencies avert PC failures in 2000.


Some of the integrated suites can monitor for year 2000 readiness after they distribute
fixes. Periodic monitoring almost certainly will be necessary to ensure that PC desktops
and servers on a network remain year 2000-ready, said Chris Jesse, president of Tangram
Enterprise Solutions Inc. of Cary, N.C.


Monitoring also is useful, he said, if the asset-tracking software can associate
individual desktop PCs and servers with a department, a general-ledger account code or a
particular mission. “Someone has to plan for all the contingencies that these
errant desktops can potentially bring to the department or agency,” the Tangram
executive said.


Other PC software vendors on the year 2000 bandwagon include BindView Development Corp.
of Houston, which has added automation for year 2000 upgrades to Release 5.2 of its
NETinventory software module.


Tally Systems Corp. of Hanover, N.H., will provide year 2000 project automation in its
PC2000 suite, and WRQ Inc. of Seattle plans to deliver automated year 2000 project support
in Express Suite 2000.


An audit server and audit agents are key components of the BindView NETinventory 5.2
architecture, which includes a log-in server, a master server and native TCP/IP
communication protocols.


BindView’s BIOS and system clock test utilities, which run 16 different hardware
tests, are built into the BindView NETinventory audit agents. The NETinventory log-in
server triggers a year 2000 audit when each PC user logs on to the network.


A typical NETinventory site will have multiple log-in servers but only one audit server
per site, said Dan Hurley, product marketing manager for BindView asset management
products.


A third component, the NETinventory master server, coordinates the functions of the
audit and log-in servers by maintaining a master routing table and master software list.


To update the software inventory, the administrator adds information to the master
server list and propagates it to all the audit servers, Hurley said.


NETinventory simplifies the network manager’s job, he said, “because
you’re really managing only one server, and that one can manage thousands of other
servers.”


The NETinventory database, populated with manufacturers’ information about year
2000 readiness of various products, identifies which PCs on a network need upgrades to
perform properly after 2000.


BindView’s asset-management software recognizes nearly 4,000 PC applications, but
its asset database will have 2000 readiness information for only about 200 of those
applications in the NETinventory 5.2 release.


As manufacturers furnish them, BindView will provide additional updates monthly on its
Web site, Hurley said.


NETinventory uses a three-point node identification, which combines information gleaned
from network interface cards with information from hard-drive serial numbers and other
data in a hidden file that NETinventory puts on each PC. “We can track a
motherboard through its lifecycle,” Hurley said.


NETinventory does not cover hubs and routers, but it does encompass all MS-DOS, IBM
OS/2, Microsoft Windows 3.x, Windows 95 and Windows NT PCs. The NETinventory module
plugs into the BindView Enterprise Management System console for Novell NetWare and
networks running Windows NT. A NETinventory license for 100 nodes, including training, is
$1,795.


A standalone version of the PC hardware test utility is downloadable free from
BindView’s Web site at http://www.bindview.com.


Tally Systems’ PC2000 suite, priced at $49 per 1,000 desktop PCs, integrates
network-based BIOS and real-time clock test utilities with software metering, hardware and
software inventory management, and electronic software distribution.


Network administrators can distribute BIOS fixes over the network by adding a software
patch to the CONFIG.SYS file or by flashing the BIOS. The BIOS flash is a permanent
fix, whereas CONFIG.SYS updates are not, “which means you need to monitor those fixes
to make sure they are in place,” said Karen Kaliski, vice president of product
marketing for Tally Systems.


Tally Systems will offer year 2000 product information as a billable service because of
the potential for manipulating compliance information downloaded from the Web, company
spokesman Randy Britton said.


WRQ’s Express Suite 2000 relies on metering to keep users from running
applications that are not 2000-ready. “Our metering client is resident and always
watching,” said Paul Davis, product line manager for WRQ’s Express software
management products.


The suite components, Express Meter and Express 2000, have separate databases now, but
they will be integrated in a 4.0 release in October, Davis said.


Express Suite 2000 piggybacks on the electronic software distribution facilities of
Microsoft System Management Server for distributing 2000-ready upgrades.


Express Suite 2000 doesn’t scan data files, but Davis said some users have
expressed interest in having software that would prompt them to scan files for proper
four-digit-year usage whenever they saved a file created in Microsoft Excel or Visual
Basic, for example.


Introductory Express Suite 2000 licenses through July 31 will be $65 per desktop PC in
quantities of 50 or more.


Contact Tangram at 919-653-6000, BindView at 713-881-9100, Tally Systems at
603-643-1300 and WRQ at 206-217-7100. 

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