McAfee broadens management console

The latest version of the McAfee antivirus software management console lets systems administrators not only manage more of its VirusScan users, but a competing product, Symantec Corp.'s desktop antivirus software, too.

McAfee's management console, ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0, can detect what version of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus Corporate Edition is running and can record event logs from it. However, the ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0 console doesn't yet allow systems administrators to remotely manipulate Norton AntiVirus settings or manage Symantec gateway antivirus products. McAfee says further control over Symantec software is the "next logical step."

"One of the key things is to be able to report on a competitor's products, especially Symantec's," says Michael Callahan, McAfee director of product marketing. Symantec is McAfee's key competitor in the antivirus software market, he says. The ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0 console marks the first time McAfee has tried to take the management reins over from Symantec software. One other vendor, Trend Micro Inc., is known to provide a multivendor antivirus management console.

The ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0 console software runs on Windows NT and 2000, and can manage up to 250,000 users, a steep increase over the 100,000-user limitation in ePolicy Orchestrator 1.0.

McAfee customers were asking for a common way to manage multiple-vendor antivirus products, Callahan says. And to be sure, Network Associates customers seem receptive to the idea.

"I applaud Network Associates' effort in this area," says Donald Woeltje, network engineer at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville, Ill., who noted that any security vendor's work in developing a unified security console "is a step in the right direction."

St. Elizabeth's uses the Network Associates antivirus products, but Woeltje noted that the company hasn't yet provided an easy migration path from another security management console it markets, Total Virus Defense Management Edition, to ePolicy Orchestrator, which is why St. Elizabeth's hasn't started using ePolicy Orchestrator yet.

"It's going to be a major chore making this transition," said Woeltje. "I also think Network Associates should spend some time providing its customers with a documented migration path from TVD ME to [ePolicy Orchestrator] before they start spending resources on improving [ePolicy Orchestrator]."

Symantec is quick to point out that the McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0 console provides a far more limited way to manage Norton AntiVirus that Symantec's management console, which is architected on a three-tier model to support about 6,000 client machines per parent server.

"They can't do policy management or virus response or download virus definitions for Norton AntiVirus," says Gary Ulaner, Symantec's group project manager.

McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0 is available for US$15 per node.

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