Symantec originally introduced pcAnywhere as a telecommuting tool, providing secure remote control solutions for larger organizations. Today, pcAnywhere is used not only for safe and secure telecommuting by large and small offices alike, but also for help desk applications and troubleshooting PC problems at remote offices.
With the latest iteration of Symantec’s pcAnywhere software released this week, David Scott, pcAnywhere senior product manager, said the company has updated the look and feel of the program, providing a more organized remote access solution.
“pcAnywhere 11.0 extends beyond remote control by providing IT administrators integrated Remote Management tools and enhanced file transfer to accelerate helpdesk and server support problem resolution,” Scott said. “We’ve also added remote management tools (below) so administrators can figure out what’s wrong faster.”
For both the enterprise helpdesk and the small business IT department, pcAnywhere 11.0 is designed to save companies time and money by enabling administrators to connect to machines all over the world or even in their own office without ever leaving their desk. Newly added connection features are video driver agnostic, which enhances ease-of-use by allowing administrators to begin remote sessions in fewer steps — as long as they are capable of working behind the network firewall.
In the Field
Paradigm Financial Advisors is an insurance and investment agency that has been serving southwestern Ontario since 1992. Paradigm Financial Advisors provides its brokers with back-office support, customized marketing solutions, business tracking, sales and educational seminars, as well as professional advisory services. Brokers have access to a portfolio of specific supplier companies offering a wide range of services designed to help them build their practices.
Paradigm Financial Advisors operates a small regional office with a staff of nine people responsible for processing orders from brokers and agents. As business grew, the office staff became overwhelmed with the volume of paperwork that needed to be processed in a day.
The company considered hiring an additional staff member to ease the workload. However, they knew that hiring a new employee to balance the workload would solve the problem only temporarily and eventually would incur more costs over the long run. Licenses for their processing software are costly, and the prospect of purchasing new licenses for each newly hired consultant was cost prohibitive.
Paradigm Financial Advisors decided its best course of action was to set up a software server that could be accessed by internal employees as well as the associates outside the office. Remote access to the server would enable associates to do their own research and order processing, which would decrease the processing workload on Paradigm’s staff.
Systems administrator Craig Pike said he chose Symantec pcAnywhere over other remote access products, including free solutions offered in the operating system, because of the versatility that pcAnywhere offers.
“Our associates are now able to do their own mutual fund processing, run insurance quotes, and access information on fund performance, which has been a significant time-saver and has helped control costs,” Pike said. “Because of pcAnywhere, we were able to increase our workload and realized we didn’t need to hire anyone.”
Pike added that mobile users within the company find pcAnywhere to be an invaluable telecommuting tool.
“Even the president of the company uses pcAnywhere to connect to the office when he’s away from work, so he can stay productive,” Pike said.
Pike was so impressed with pcAnywhere 10.0 that he began exploring ways to use pcAnywhere beyond its traditional remote access and telecommuting niches. As the sole member of his office’s IT department, Pike is responsible for handling the administration and maintenance of up to 20 workstations running Windows 2000 and one Windows 2000 Server.
“I considered moving to Windows 2000 terminal server for helpdesk support, but it doesn’t offer the versatility I need. I would have to install the server on each client, and for security reasons, I don’t want to do that,” Pike said. “pcAnywhere provides the rich technical support features and flexibility that I need.”
Pike is especially excited about the new remote management features in pcAnywhere 11.0. This suite of tools, designed especially with helpdesks in mind, enables IT professionals to quickly perform such tasks as remotely starting and stopping processes and services, editing the registry on a host computer, changing the system state of a host, and remotely editing system files. Remote management tasks use the video resources on the local computer, eliminating the need to send video signals. Because only the non-video data is sent, connections are significantly faster, resulting in faster problem resolution.
“Having the troubleshooting tools that I use most frequently in the same place, easily accessible through pcAnywhere will be a huge time-saver for me,” Pike said.
Out of the Box
Symantec’s pcAnywhere 11.0 offers a complete toolset designed to drastically reduce the resolution time for helpdesk and server support with a three-fold solution: remote control, remote management and file transfer capabilities. Remote Management tools are run on the helpdesk machine but affect the connected host computer. The task manager tool (right), for example, allows users to remotely manipulate applications and processes on a host computer. Command Prompt provides a command line interface for DOS commands on the host. Remote Regedit allows complete manipulation of the host machine’s registry.
Symantec’s Scott said that the enhanced file transfer functionality in version 11.0 allows files to be sent in the background while queuing additional files to be sent.
“The enhanced file transfer is now done in the background, so pcAnywhere 11.0 is able to cue up a variety of different files to transfer,” Scott said. “This ends up being a real time-saver for administrators. New Command Queue files can combine file transfers with DOS commands to generate batch files can be handing during software updates.”
Pricing and Availability
pcAnywhere 11.0 is scheduled to be available through Symantec’s network of distributors and resellers this month. Estimated single seat retail pricing for pcAnywhere is $199.95. For small business users, the product will be available in 5-user and 10-user packs for estimated retail prices of $799.95 and $1,599.95 respectively.