The latest upgrade of Symantec's pcAnywhere introduces eight management tools that the company says streamline communication with remote machines so help-desk staff can handle more calls per day.
Version 11 accomplishes this by automating previously manual commands and by reducing the amount of data that has to travel between local and remote machines.
Rather than setting up a full remote-control session, the software runs an application such as Regedit (for editing registry files) locally and populates it with data gathered from the remote host. In earlier versions of pcAnywhere, users would have to initiate remote-control sessions on the remote server or PC, then issue commands to it directly.
Such capabilities are important to help desks, which have suffered staffing cuts and reduced training, says Rob Enderle, vice president and research fellow at Giga Information Group. "Because of the complexity of the (pre-Version 11) product, people would buy it and didn't use it because it was relatively hard to do," he says.
One long-time pcAnywhere user says he will phase out use of another tool called Ideal Management from AMT Software. "If I've got one tool that does it all, I'm going to use that," says Brian Cook, field services engineer for US-based railroad supplier Wabtec, who tested a beta version of the new pcAnywhere. He says the speed of connecting to remote hosts is improved with Version 11.
The speed is partly the result of a new feature called Quick Connect that requires only entering a remote-access phone number, IP address or machine name. The software then completes the link.
Another major revision is the user interface, which looks and behaves much like that of Windows XP, making it possible to change the size of toolbars and the window that represents the remote host screen. "In the previous version you had to finagle different screen sizes between the host and the remote-control machine," says Steve Ochsner, president of Workbench Software, a banking software developer.
The pcAnywhere update also enforces security policies and restricts access by leveraging Windows policy-management features, the company says. It also supports RSA SecurID authentication.