Here’s a common small business headache: you have numerous computers scattered across your network that you don’t know anything about. Some are configured with more RAM or faster processors than others. Your newest machines are running different versions of Adobe Photoshop than the rest. Maybe you don’t know whether the employees that connect to your network from home have installed the latest critical Windows patch. And if one of your older laptops was stolen, would you even notice? In short, it’s an IT headache—assuming you even have someone handling IT management in the first place.
There are, of course, numerous software suites and applications that aim to solve this problem. Microsoft’s own System Center Configuration Manager is a popular choice for managing many Windows PCs, and can also handle software deployment and hardware inventory, among other things. Companies such as Symantec also offer deployment and security software packages that promise to keep software up to date and potential security holes patched. And of course, there’s no shortage of software—from Prey to iCloud—that promises to keep an eye on stolen machines.
However, there are a few problems with the current batch of options. Many are Windows or OS X-only, which can make such software ill-suited for mixed-machine environments. Other suites, such as McAfee Total Protection, provide a cloud-based interface and management, but tend to focus only on Web and e-mail security. But another company, new to the US market, is tackling the ambitious task of managing, well, everything, using a central dashboard in the cloud. And in many cases, it can work with your existing software, too.