Goverlan Reach has been a pleasure of a product to use, and has allowed our IT
team to achieve a much higher degree of efficiency with all user support instances requiring
hands-on PC work. Users can be helped from across the world just as easily as those sitting within
proximity of the team, which has had a massive positive response from these end users.
Jason L., Information Services, Manufacturing
Goverlan Reach is licensed on a per concurrent tech basis starting at $35 per month, with unlimited management of external and internal end-users or machines.
Dameware adopts a similar approach to Goverlan, using Active Directory and network discovery, both solutions identify unmanaged computers on your network and provide the ability to query basic information from them by means of Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). You also have the ability to push the solution’s client agent to unmanaged computers, making them managed computers. The client agent gives the solution more coverage and reach into the remote computer, enabling a broader range of management tasks and reporting. Data is queried from systems in real-time, and changes are also applied in real-time, although both solutions allow for scheduled application of batch changes. Manageability with Dameware is available only when managed systems are turned on and awake, and both solutions support various techniques to control the power state.
Like Goverlan, Dameware’s software agent is small so will not impact the performance of the end-user’s device. Similar to Goverlan, Dameware is a desktop application, so does not require a server-based infrastructure and can be deployed for piloting without impacting the production network. However, unlike many solutions in this category Dameware does not offer centralization of certain events for reporting and auditing purposes, such as use of the solution’s remote control facilities.
Remote control is a core functional area for solutions in this category. Dameware supports the built-in Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), VNC and Telnet/SSH for cross-platform control, and also provides its own proprietary remote control protocol. Proprietary protocols may offer better network utilization or lower CPU utilization, file transfer and chat capabilities, additional user experience or security options, and so on.
Dameware also offers various end-user approval modes that, depending upon their configuration, can require remote viewers to obtain end-user permission before viewing or controlling the session, or can be set to allow administrators full remote control with no user awareness or acknowledgement.
There are two distinct approaches to remote control: In-band control and out-of-band control. Dameware provides In-band control and supports Intel vPro-based remote control, which is the most popular Out-of-band control software.
It is important to note that there are significant and often subtle differences between Remote Administration solutions. For example, when managing printers, environment variables, and other user-specific settings, the Goverlan solution is multi-user aware. When managing a shared computer, for example, Goverlan can “see” individual user profiles and permit you to modify them individually or all at once. This can be a significant advantage; other solutions may accomplish this by modifying the profile when the user logs on, rather than in real-time.
Another example: when searching for objects in AD DS, the Goverlan solution provides a simplified UI that enables an administrator to directly search for attribute names. Typing “department=sales,” for example, retrieves all users in the sales department. Dameware supports AD DS searching through the standard OS dialog, which provides full functionality but is somewhat more complicated to use.
It should be noted that Goverlan provides a unique feature named fastConnect that is especially useful to support technicians. This feature allows the support professional to find and target a computer by searching for the username of the currently logged on user. As an example, when a user contacts support, they rarely know their computer name, forcing the support technician to spend several minutes helping the user discover and report the computer name for a remote connection. With fastConnect, the technician can query for the username and see the corresponding computer, allowing for an immediate connection without further involving the user.
Dameware product, unlike others in this category, appears to have minimal Exchange Server administrative support (mainly mailbox management and attributes, which come from AD DS), but has a number of restrictive system requirements to use it.
The following table summarizes the key functional areas for remote administration. These areas can be administered “behind the scenes,” meaning they do not require remote control of the remote computer. Users will not be aware that the following activities are taking place.
Some solution offer a broad range of built-in configuration tweaks and settings Dameware does not pre-define configuration for things like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Security Policies, Time Synchronization, Folder Redirection etc. Many organizations will already be using, or will prefer to use, the native Group Policy objects (GPO) feature of AD DS to manage these and other registry-based settings for more granular targeting and application of settings. Goverlan, through its Scope Actions feature, could also provide a similar level of granularity.
Dameware’s batch processing capabilities are limited. You can, in a batch, deploy the solution’s client agent, install services, deploy registry files, manage power state (restart, shutdown, etc.), send pop-up messages, and a handful of other selected tasks by selection of computers.
By contrast, the Goverlan solution has extensive batch processing capabilities. You can define scopes, which are groups of computers, users, or AD DS groups. Scopes can consist of static lists, AD DS sites or containers, IP address ranges, and so on. An extensive set of actions, broadly categorized as “reporting,” “setting,” and “executing” are built-in, and custom actions can be created. Actions can be further scoped by specifying limiting criteria – only machines with a certain amount of RAM, for example. Reporting is available for the entire WMI repository – a wide range of data, much of which is pre-indexed and explained within the solution. Settings can include AD DS properties, local accounts, and a range of WMI objects. Execution can include nearly anything the solution is capable of doing on a per-computer basis, including network settings, printers, processes, software, for a total of several dozen discrete actions.
Because most IT environments consist of more than one administrator or technician, shared features can become important. Although Dameware has a central server for licensing, we were not able to discover any means of sharing configuration data between users of this solution. The Goverlan solution supports sharing computer lists, console layouts, remote control connection sets, software installer packages, batch action sequences, and batch action target lists.
Goverlan includes WMIX, an integrated utility (also available standalone) that provides a GUI atop the WMI repository. This utility enables administrators to browse WMI (often the only way to discover what the repository contains), and provides custom in-product documentation for core WMI classes and properties. Using the utility’s built-in reports, report wizard, or report templates, administrators can generate a wide variety of real-time inventory reports. Dameware does not offer equivalent functionality.
It should be noted that the real-time discovery, exploration and future storage of custom WMI information has proven essential in many situations. Most products leave the IT support staff to accumulate their own tools outside of the product to accomplish these tasks. The Goverlan WMIX utility provides this integrated support and goes beyond most other available toolsets.
Dameware addresses the same problem space within an organization as Goverlan, although Goverlan offers broader functionality and deeper management reach. Goverlan’s approach to batch administration – action scopes, a GUI-based task sequencer, and so on – offer extended opportunities for use, and take the product almost to the point of being a full-fledged systems management tool. The additional attention to management details, such as the fastConnect feature providing easy-to-discover computer targets from usernames, demonstrates an understanding of the support professionals role and challenges. Greater platform administration of Mac and Linux is a must for growing organizations with cross-platform requirements.