Crash-proof PCs Via the 'Net

SAN FRANCISCO (02/04/2000) - Have you ever wished that you had someone standing over your shoulder while you install an application, warning you of conflicts with your other programs and suggesting solutions? Well, now there's someone to do that -- at least if you have a business with 500 or more PCs and are willing to pay a monthly fee on each of them.

This week Spirian Technologies announced IT Reliability Services, an Internet-based service that tracks a company's hardware and software. It spots and warns you about potential problems, aiming to help you avoid crashes. For instance, suppose you install TimeWaster 2.0 on a system that already has SystemStopper 86. Both use darntricky.dll, but TimeWaster requires a later version that SystemStopper doesn't like. IT Reliability Services might warn you of the problem and offer options for working around it.

Actually, electronic software distribution (ESD) programs have been offering this type of help for some time. But these tools tend to be expensive and complex to manage. By acting as an Internet-based application service provider, Spirian can manage them for you.

Spirian doesn't have it's own ESD program, but it offers you online access to your choice of one of three existing products: Microsoft's Systems Management Server 2.0, Cognet 3.0, or Swan International's Vision64. In addition, you get Tangram Enterprise Solutions' Asset Insight 3.0 to help you track your hardware, software, peripherals, and configuration.

The company has been offering these services informally to its big clients since 1998. Now, Spirian has formally packaged and named the service and is offering it to "midsize" companies of 500 PCs and up.

For the companies large enough to get it, IT Reliability Services costs from US$15 to $40 a month per PC. Spirian promises that there are no additional costs.

According to Spirian, the service isn't sufficiently automated to be practical for smaller firms, although they hope to make it so eventually.

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to afford this kind of assistance.

Then again, in a perfect world, no one would need it.

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