ManageEngine offers licensed utilities to assist the IT administrator in network, server, application, and desktop management, but many apps are also free.
ManageEngine is a commercial software management provider that offers many tools and utility suites to assist IT administrators in managing networks and software on Windows desktops. ManageEngine is owned by Zoho Corporation, which is commonly known for providing business and productivity applications. Although much of ManageEngine's software is licensed, the company also offers a free downloads section.
The free tools download section allows you to install utilities on a PC or server and then perform many daily tasks from one location. Further down the page, the company offers many of its software suites with either limited use or limited licenses for small businesses. For example, the Windows Desktop Management suite is free for up to 25 computers.
Not all of the tools listed on the Web site are free editions—some are trial software—but the free editions are clearly displayed on each page.
Free Tools Downloads
Currently, there are almost a dozen free tools on the download page. These tools perform a range of functions—from monitoring the health of Exchange servers and VMware servers, to Active Directory reporting, and performing common Windows desktop tasks. Click on any tool to get a more detailed explanation of what that tool offers.
The Free Windows Tools package combines common tasks administrators are used to performing on Windows desktops. Its focus is on connecting remotely to a PC to either perform administrative tasks or gather data.
Figure 1: The main menu of free Windows tools looks quite promising! (Click images to enlarge.)
As you can see, you can perform various tasks. The Software Inventory button provides you a list of installed software on a remote PC. Wake on LAN and ShutDown/Restart are available. The GPO Update function is useful if you're running an Active Directory domain. This allows you to update the GPO to another remote PC from the current one.
One of my favorites is the Remote Command Prompt. This drops you to a command line on the remote Windows PC, which is extremely useful. Click on this tool, and you'll see everything you can do with the command prompt, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: These options are available with the remote command prompt.
To get a command prompt, select the first option. This will open a Windows command prompt window on the remote PC you specified.
Many other tools are available. The SNMP MibBrowser tool offers a MIB browser with a trap receiver and alerting mechanism. There are also VMware and MS HyperV configuration utilities to configure virtualization servers, and so much more.
The free sets of management software are each broken down into category. Network, application, and desktop management are among the options. Also, help desk and log management packages are available. Many of these tools are free for use with limited license clients, while others are trial software. Each tool is clearly marked if it has a free license use, while others are marked trial software.
In the case of Desktop Central, you can use it for up to 25 computer clients. Desktop Central allows administration of software installation, patch management, desktop configurations, and more. Consult each page to see the license availability for free use.
Do I Need to Explain Myself?
Before I go on, I feel I need to explain a few things. While I don't frequently write about commercial software and instead typically focus on open-source alternatives, I can't deny that a huge part of my full-time employment is managing Windows desktops and servers and proprietary software. Although I enjoy working with open-source software, I'm not against proprietary and licensed software. In fact, I license and use Desktop Central management tools on my employer's network. It saves time and money for my employer.
Open source is not a religion to me, and I don't see the battle between proprietary and open-source software the same way many other people view it. Each serves and meets different needs and goals of those using it. Often, it makes sense to deploy an open-source tool, but then again, deploying an open-source tool often creates for administrators more work and overhead in managing it compared to a proprietary counterpart. Each situation can be different, and I'm all for deploying whatever most cost-effectively and efficiently meets the needs of users and administrators. Sometimes that solution is open-source, and sometimes it costs.
Now back to ManageEngine.
On the few occasions that I've had to use ManageEngine support, I've used it through either the email ticketing system or the built-in technical support request via the Desktop Central tools. In those cases, ManageEngine was pretty quick at getting back to me and solving the problem. They also welcome feature requests openly, which is often unheard of with software companies. As a matter of fact, in an upcoming release, they are building in a feature request of my own. How cool is that?
With the free tools available, I'm sure you'll be able to find something ManageEngine offers to assist you with daily administration tasks. Who knows? Maybe, like me, you'll use them and like them enough to purchase a license for a particular product to solve a management need of your own. Whether you're using the free tools or the licensed product, you can't deny ManageEngine offers some nice management software to add to your arsenal.