Symantec adds patch management to Ghost software

A new version of the Ghost computer cloning and restoration product from Symantec adds features that deploy software patches and reduce the network bandwidth used by the program, the company said Monday.

Ghost 8.0 Corporate Edition, the latest edition of Symantec's tool, finds the software evolving from a backup and recovery product into a configuration and patch management platform.

A new features in Ghost 8.0 is remote management that enables administrators to clone Microsoft, Windows NT, 2000 or XP machines and send out software hot fixes or operating system configuration changes to multiple workstations at once, Symantec said. New features also make it easier to migrate user settings such as Windows "My Documents" folders, desktop shortcuts and configurations between computers, Symantec said.

To simplify file deployment, a new file transfer multicasting feature allows the same file to be pushed out and run on multiple workstations at the same time. Bandwidth throttling features enable companies to use the multicast feature without taking up too much of the network's available resources, the company said.

Ghost customers can still "unicast," copying a desktop image to a single machine, or deploy a single image to all machines on a network subnet, Symantec said.

Symantec also included features to limit the impact of system cloning and restoration on corporate networks. Unlike earlier versions of Ghost, Version 8.0 Corporate Edition has the ability to create staging areas on local machines. Those enable administrators to store local copies of user profiles, software fixes or even entire "images" of the computer operating environment, Symantec said.

Unlike other disk contents, the staging area is not overwritten when Ghost restores files to the machine and the files in it can be used to quickly install key software components. Earlier versions of Ghost required all the information captured during the cloning process or used in a restoration to be sent back and forth over the corporate network, Symantec said.

Symantec also introduced improved asset tracking features. IT administrators can now track what hardware and software is running on remote machines from the Ghost 8.0 management console and use filters to see which machines qualify for software patches or other updates, the company said.

Finally, a "ghost boot" feature simplifies deployment of the Ghost product by allowing administrators to browse for network machines and remotely install the Ghost client, Symantec said.

Symantec Ghost 8.0 is available immediately through Symantec distributors and resellers, the company said.

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