ScriptLogic has updated its Desktop Authority PC administration software with USB and port security, and the ability to regularly refresh PC configurations.
The security option in Desktop Authority 7.5 allows a PC to be locked down -- not just to prevent data being copied onto a USB stick or MP3 player, but also to prevent beaming via Bluetooth or even local printing, for example.
"We can lock down all sorts of ports -- we have drivers that intercept calls to those ports," said product management director Jon Rolls. "We can block by usage, so USB might only be allowed for keyboard and mouse, and external storage is read-only, say. You can have different profiles for different users as well, to allow admins to do more than ordinary users."
Rolls added that the ScriptLogic software can now refresh a PC's configuration hourly -- to add a new printer or file server, for example -- without requiring users to log out and in again.
He is particularly proud of the way all this is managed via a graphical interface and Wizard-style software rules that convert the network admin's input into system management commands.
"We really do cut the amount of time you spend managing your network," he claimed. "With Altiris or Microsoft SMS you'll be spending a lot of time writing scripts -- ScriptLogic's validation logic makes it point and click.
"It works with Citrix as well -- thin clients need management too. The admin engine detects Terminal Server and applies a different set of rules to suit, for example there's no need for separate patch management and anti-spyware."
ScriptLogic has also extended Desktop Authority's coverage, adding support for configuring newly installed PCs, a task which Rolls said his users currently use other tools for, such as those from Altiris or LANdesk.
"The average PC lifecycle is three years, of which two years and 362 days is ongoing admin," he said. "Our customers were using other products for the first three days so we decided to cover those too. We are starting with initial set-up, and will add imaging and provisioning in October -- it's in beta now.
"18 months ago we were very complementary to Altiris, but our customers said that if we added say patch management, or inventory control, or anti-spyware, they could have just one product and save cost.
"The real high costs though are in granular day-to-day management - getting applications working, locking the desktop down, and managing mobile users who cache their credentials and never actually log on."
However, an Altiris spokesman said his company's PC admin tools are mostly graphical as well, adding that in any case the ability to script may be essential to get around the different nuances of various systems.
"If you talk about graphical versus scripting, it tends to belie the way people work," said Mark Boggia, Altiris' lead systems engineer in Europe. "Yes, they want dashboards and wizards, but they also want scripting where appropriate - in perhaps 5 percent of cases."
He added that Altiris can provide USB security too, via its strategy of creating open APIs so that other tools -- in this case security software from Senforce -- can tie into its admin framework.
Rolls said that Desktop Authority 7.5 costs £31.20 (US$58) per user, including the port security option, with volume discounts almost halving that for large organizations. Free 30-day evaluation copies are available online, he said.