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Stop Counting Macs! Use Apple Remote Desktop And Never Do Inventory Again

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You probably know that Apple Remote Desktop lets you observe and control Macs across your network, but did you know that it can also count, inventory, and keep track of them for you? In this first of three articles covering the often untapped possibilities of Remote Desktop, Ryan Faas shows you the ways you can use it to significantly improve inventory processes, monitor network performance, remain alert to changes in workstations that might be signs of theft, and prepare customized reports easily on the state of the Macs in your network in preparation for an upgrade.
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Many Mac administrators and technicians know about Apple Remote Desktop, which was introduced about four years ago. But a great number of Mac professionals don’t realize the full potential of the product. In fact, many assume that Remote Desktop’s only real use is to remotely monitor or control Mac workstations and servers. There is no doubt that is one of its major functions, especially for headless Xserves (it enables you to have complete control of Mac OS X Server beyond using SSH terminal sessions and Apple’s GUI administration tools).

But Remote Desktop isn’t limited to remote management, troubleshooting, and surveillance capabilities. It can also be a powerful inventory aid or solution, revamp classroom and computer lab interaction between instructors and students, offer unique remote collaboration and presentation options, and make deployments of anything from applications and updates to specific files to full deployments of a new network of Macs much easier and more efficient.

In this first of three articles covering the often untapped possibilities of Remote Desktop, I’ll look at the ways you can use it to significantly improve inventory processes, monitor network performance, remain alert to changes in workstations that might be signs of theft, and prepare customized reports easily on the state of the Macs in your network in preparation for an upgrade.

Review of the Apple Remote Desktop Basics

For those not familiar with Apple Remote Desktop, this section reviews the basic steps of installing and configuring Remote Desktop. (Additional information is available in the Remote Desktop Administration Guide.) The client software comes installed along with Mac OS X 10.3 or higher and is configured using the Sharing pane in System Preferences. The Apple Remote Desktop package from Apple contains the administrator software, which includes the Remote Desktop application that you use to manage and interact with Remote Desktop clients and can be purchased in 10 client and unlimited client versions.

When you install the administrator software on a workstation, it becomes an administrator computer that can manage, observe, interact with, and generate reports for Remote Desktop clients in your network. The installer also gives you the option to create custom installer packages that can be used to automatically configure the Remote Desktop client on workstations for management, which can save you the time and energy of configuring each client by hand.

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