Microsoft has expanded its MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) to include the ability to manage users' BitLocker encrypted folders.
MDOP 2011 Release 2, posted Monday, also brings significant updates to two of its core components, the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) and the Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS) 2.0.
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The update "delivers on some of the most requested features from users," said Niamh Coleman, Microsoft director of MDOP product management.
MDOP is a collection of administrator tools for managing large numbers of desktop computers running Microsoft Windows 7. It includes programs for troubleshooting computers, for managing computer inventories, for managing virtual machines and for other common administrative duties.
MDOP 2011 R2 features a new tool, called the MBAM (Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring), that "streamlines BitLocker provisioning," Coleman said. BitLocker allows users to store data in an encrypted folder, residing either on the local drive on a removable USB-based key drive.
MBAM will give administrators some control and oversight about how users use the BitLocker feature, Coleman said. MBAM generates reports of how many users are deploying BitLocker, which can be useful in helping compile compliance reports on how many users are deploying the technology. It also solves the headache of managing all the users' recovery keys, which the software stores in an encrypted database. The keys can now be accessed from the help desk by way of a Web page.
Previously, help desk personnel would have to be granted access to Active Directory to recover the keys for users, a level of accessibility that might make security managers uneasy. "It's a little bit more than they would want to do from a security standpoint," said A.J. Smith, Microsoft senior MDOP product manager. The Web page limits the access to keys only.
With the new release, Microsoft has also updated DaRT, now at version 7.0, with a number of significant features. Administrators can now troubleshoot a system or even reinstall the OS remotely, rather than making a trip to the actual desktop computer itself. DaRT can be deployed over the network by the Intel's PXE (Preboot Execution Environment ) protocol, or by USB, optical disk or the recovery partition.
"Imagine I'm on the help desk in New York, and my user is located in Seattle. If she had a problem with her PC, I could boot DaRT over the network and then have her enable the DaRT session so I could remote in and try to fix her computer," Smith said.
The updated inventory tool, AIS 2.0, has been updated as well. This software provides a list of software installed on desktop computers, as well as the hardware configurations.
The previous version of AIS could only manage 20,000 clients. Microsoft found that some of the larger enterprise users chafed at this limit, and were using multiple copies to manage desktops. So the new versions can now oversee up to 100,000 clients.
The new package also updates other components as well, including the Microsoft Application Virtualization, the Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization, the Advanced Group Policy Management, and the Microsoft Desktop Error Monitoring.
In a report generated for Microsoft, IDC has estimated organizations could save $252 per year per personal computer in administrative costs by using MDOP.
MDOP 2011 R2 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Volume Licensing site, TechNet or MSDN (Microsoft Software Developers Network). Windows Intune customers can use the software as part of their subscription.