Apple Computer Inc. announced on Monday Apple Remote Desktop 2, its software solution to assist Mac system administrators and computer managers with asset management, software distribution and help desk support. According to Apple, the new release features "dramatic improvements" in performance as well as 50 new features to help manage Macs running Mac OS X.
"This is the product you need if you're responsible for managing a group of Macintosh systems," Tom Goguen, Apple's director for Server and Storage Software Product Marketing, told MacCentral. "We are building tools to make it much more cost effective for people to deploy our systems in their environment."
The new release of Apple Remote Desktop can produce hardware and software inventory reports and lets administrators install software or schedule it for later installation. Admins can use more than 200 system information attributes to keep track of systems in their domain, and they can also see what's going on with individual desktops by using real-time screen sharing. Screen sharing works on Macs, as well as Windows and Linux computers using Virtual Network Computing (VNC). This feature, according to Goguen, is where users will see the biggest performance boost over previous versions.
"The thing you will notice the most is the performance gains we've made -- it looks and feels like real-time when you are doing remote screen sharing," said Goguen.
With Apple Remote Desktop 2 you can access task lists; write and execute remote shell scripts and use new command-line tools for configuring system preferences; "remote control" Mac OS X functions like opening files and applications, emptying trash and logging out; run "Network Scanners" to find Mac OS X systems on the network; perform offline reports; delegate subsets of Apple Remote Desktop tasks to users; and set the local startup disk or specify network startup disks when using NetBoot.
With version 2, Apple Remote Desktop can now be installed on a server, remotely or locally. All authorized systems now report to Apple Remote Desktop and update the server with assets, what software is installed, what hardware is installed, etc. Because the new version uses a local asset database, mobile systems that are offline will now be included in reports, which wasn't possible under previous versions.
While Apple Remote Desktop has been a tool mainly targeted to the education market, Apple will be changing its focus slightly when marketing version 2.0. Education remains an important market for the product, but IT administrators will become a bigger part of Apple's message, whether they are in education or any other IT role.
"We had a lot of discussions with our customers and what we found out was that there are a couple of features that were really popular in education for the curriculum. We also found out that when a lot of people were talking about education, they meant IT managers in education."
Apple plans to release Apple Remote Desktop in July. A package capable of managing up to 10 systems will cost US$299, or $499 for unlimited systems. Educational pricing is available.
Apple Remote Desktop works on any G3 or better with Mac OS X v10.2.8 or later. Ethernet or AirPort network connectivity is required.
Update 6/21/04 2:00 PM: Comments from Tom Goguen, more descriptions of what's new added.
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This story, "Apple Remote Desktop 2 adds 50 features" was originally published by PCWorld.