CA offers new small business software suite

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) unveiled on Monday a new software suite intended to help small businesses with little IT support infrastructure manage their employees' PCs.

The Unicenter Desktop Management Suite for Small Businesses is available on a subscription basis for US$30 per system per year, a price CA said it hopes will attract small companies seeking to avoid high IT overhead and staffing costs.

The package enables administrators to distribute applications from a central location and to maintain consistent PC configurations throughout an organization. It includes tools for virus scanning, software inventorying, backing up and recovering data, and remotely controlling users' systems to resolve problems. The remote-control functions can also be used by telecommuters for off-site access to company applications, CA said.

Beta tester Win Shih, IT director of Saint Louis University's Pius Library, said he found the software easy to install and use. He said he appreciates the software's administrative interface, which offers easy access to all of the package's functions. If his university can afford a subscription, Shih said he would like to keep using the suite.

Potential users should know, however, that when the software is installed on a client machine it loads every time the PC boots, adding to startup times, Shih said.

"You need to educate users. They'll need to wait a bit longer than usual," he said.

Free 30- and 60-day trials of the software suite are available via CA's website. The Unicenter Desktop Management Suite for Small Businesses is currently on offer in North America. Later this year it will be available in worldwide markets, including Europe, South America, and Asia, CA said.

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