Product Reviews

Powerful Management

SiteKeeper helps admins maintain software control.

Executive Software's SiteKeeper promises to do three things: track software inventory across the network, track software license usage, and push Windows 2000 and XP logo-compliant software across the network. I've been working with SiteKeeper for about six months; I must say that, over that time, it has evolved into quite a powerful product. SiteKeeper can now be used to monitor and manage target computers running Windows NT 4.0, Win2K, Windows XP, Windows 98 and Windows Me, with support coming later this year for Windows 95 systems.

After an easy installation, you complete a two-step setup process to get to work. Although SiteKeeper makes use of SQL Server 7.0 or SQL Server 2000, you can also install the Microsoft Desktop Engine (MSDE). It took about 10 minutes to configure SiteKeeper and get it to work. The only anomaly is that you need to restart the machine that SiteKeeper is installed on after installing the MSDE. This interrupts the Specify Database Wizard process, so you'll need to rerun it to finish the configuration of the SiteKeeper database. Failure to do so will prevent you from being able to use SiteKeeper. The only other real caveat comes into play when you're using SiteKeeper to work with Windows 98 or Windows Me computers: You'll need to install the SiteKeeper Agent on these computers before scanning them or attempting to push software to them across the network. Figure 1 shows the output you can expect to receive if you attempt to work with these legacy clients without installing the SiteKeeper Agent.

From that point on, SiteKeeper works like a dream. First, you add machines from one or more domains or workgroups. As part of this process, you specify a set of credentials to be used (someone with the permissions required to root through all the machines—such as a Domain Admin). From there, you can go one of two ways: You can scan machines for software installation and licensing issues or start pushing software installations (or removals) across the network.

SiteKeeper Agent
You need to install the SiteKeeper Agent when working with Windows 98 and Me machines. If you don't, the scan will fail.

Scanning machines for installed software is simple, as is entering the license information pertinent to your organization. Figure 2 shows a fictitious software compliance report on two computers in my test lab—note that the only installations listed on the software compliance report are those for which you haven't entered adequate licenses. Installing and managing software via SiteKeeper is also fairly simple and now comes with several preconfigured installation options for common applications, although it's not quite as powerful as using Win2K's Group Policy and IntelliMirror or using Systems Management Server. Depending on your needs, this could be a good or bad thing. On the good side, using SiteKeeper to push software across the network requires very little planning and doesn't require the dedicated server typically seen when using SMS.

SiteKeeper Compliance Report
The compliance report lists only the software that has inadequate licensing.

SiteKeeper can be run from any Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6, Win2K SP2 or Windows XP machine as long as the machine has Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2 or higher. If you currently have no software inventory or management system in place, SiteKeeper is definitely worth a look. The price is extremely competitive, and the feature set is robust and easy to learn (and thus easier to get to work with it). Considering the recent BSA push to improve software inventory and control, you can't really afford to go another day without doing something. Consider putting SiteKeeper to work for a quick and easy fix to software licensing and management woes.

About the Author

Will Schmied, BSET, MCSE, CWNA, MCSA, Network+, A+, is a consultant and author who has contributed to books for several publishers, including Osborne/Mc-Graw Hill, Syngress, Que and New Riders in addition to several print magazine articles. His latest book, Managing a Windows 2000 Network (MCSA Exam 70-218), from Que Publishing, is now available. When not busy working with Windows technologies, he can often be found trying to improve his bowling average or logging some time on Warcraft III.

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