The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

Review: Altiris Asset Management Suite from Symantec

This independent review of Altiris™ Asset Management Suite from Symantec is part of our 2012 SAM Tools Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Configuration-centric ITAM tool – significant shortcomings for Enterprise SAM
Strengths Good configuration data to provide baseline for SAM
Weaknesses Missing major SAM features compared to competitors
Primary Market Focus Systems Management Platform for all size customers

Commercial Summary

Vendor Symantec
Product Altiris™ Asset Management Suite (AMS) and Altiris™ Client Management Suite (CMS) from Symantec
Version reviewed V7.1
Date of version release 7th March 2011
Year founded Symantec was founded in 1982. Altiris was founded in 1998 and acquired by Symantec in 2007.
Customers Not Disclosed. ITAM Review Estimate 10,000+ (Around 20K Altiris customers and roughly half take the asset features) “Symantec does not provide this information by product line or product. Symantec does business with 99.5 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies.”
End points managed Not disclosed. “Symantec does not provide this information by product line or product.”
Pricing The Client Management suite is priced per $79.22 per managed node. The Asset Management Suite is priced by concurrent user. Prices start from $12,975 per user.
License Options “Altiris Asset Management Suite is licensed for concurrent use offered as either perpetual or subscription, allowing multiple users to manage any number of assets but limiting access to one person at a time per license. Symantec offers the product with two types of support maintenance: Basic and Essential. Symantec does not charge for our management platform. An organization can implement as many servers as required.”

Independent Review


The Symantec Altiris offering consists of two main components:

  • Client Management Suite (IT Management tasks e.g. deploy, manage, patch) and
  • The Asset Management Suite (ITAM Tasks)

The Asset Management suite is dependent on the Client Management Suite being deployed and acts as an additional module that harnesses the configuration data.

In terms of licensing the Symantec Altiris products, an organization would buy Client Management Suite licenses to manage each of their end points and a concurrent license for each Asset Management Suite user. So for example, a single Asset Manager managing 1,000 assets would buy 1,000 Client Management Suite licenses and 1 single concurrent Asset Management Suite license.

Market Share: The Big Kahuna?

Symantec boast a large market share in the IT Management sector relative to the other vendors in this assessment. The Symantec Altiris team report around 20,000 customers using their Client Management Suite. Of this, they estimate that around half also choose the Asset Management Suite.

The Asset Management Suite is a good all round asset repository but when it comes to Enterprise-grade SAM it has significant shortcomings.

From a purely SAM point of view the closest competitor to Symantec Altiris is Microsoft SCCM. Microsoft has encouraged an ecosystem of SAM management packs and plugins to leverage their technology and bridge feature gaps for SAM. I’m not aware of a similar ecosystem for Symantec Altiris.

This is a shame because whilst Symantec Altiris provides a good foundation of inventory information, I would not recommend shortlisting this technology as an Enterprise SAM tool in isolation. I can imagine many other SAM tools in this review providing value to Symantec Altiris data.

Just Like Outlook

The console has a familiar, well polished if rather dated feel to it. The product management team were keen to tell me it was ‘Just like Outlook’ – but I don’t see that as a redeeming feature. When I think of Outlook I think “Looks good but difficult to find stuff”, perhaps not something you would highlight as a key quality of an ITAM platform. ITAM above all else is governance, so we want to see transparency, verification and accuracy.

The ITAM Bottleneck

As you would expect of a systems management platform and endpoint security vendor the hardware asset management capabilities to support key SAM tasks are comprehensive. Similarly if you are fully invested in the Symantec Altiris family you can take advantage of connectivity with Altiris Server Management Suite and Symantec ServiceDesk.

The broader Symantec Altiris family talks a good story of automated service from service request through to retirement on a common technology platform – but I struggle to see how they can deliver this without the business intelligence that industrial strength SAM provides.

Slick service delivery, customer-specific provisioning and lifecycle workflow all look good in principle but where is financial verification? It makes IT service delivery look Gung-Ho and ITAM a bottleneck. Let’s build the best shiny automated supermarket on the planet with an antiquated cash register. The missing SAM features are a chink in the portfolio.


The shortcomings present themselves when attempting to interpret hardware and software data to make SAM decisions.


  • Contracts Management features are generic and likely to be frustrating for SAM practitioners
  • There is no SAM intelligence provided by the catalogue beyond basic software recognition (What needs a license, what type of software is it? How do I prioritize?)
  • The software catalogue is only updated via version releases – last major version was March 2011, Service pack in October 2012.
  • Out of the box License Management is primitive and is only focussed at desktop products (No per user licensing, no processor licensing, no second use rights, upgrade or downgrade rights, does not allow upload of vendor statements)

Whilst my review is not based on exhaustive technical study, I imagine day-to-day SAM with this platform is very labour intensive. Customers will have to harness complimentary technology or end up doing most of the license management heavy lifting in excel sheets.

In my opinion Symantec Altiris should invest in some stronger SAM features or align with some strategic partners in order to get some traction in this market, as it stands they are a laggard. I am perhaps being overly critical of Symantec Altiris, but the company has a big market share and the resources to invest in ITAM – I am keen for them to grasp the nettle and serve their ITAM customers who need much more.

3 Minute Video Introduction

Symantec Altiris Customers:

From The Symantec Altiris Brochure

“Altiris™ Asset Management Suite from Symantec improves visibility into IT assets at every point in the lifecycle to reduce costs and fulfill compliance initiatives. The suite helps organizations eliminate unnecessary software and hardware costs, proactively manage vendor contracts, and align resources to ensure IT investments are optimized and business-aligned.

Asset managers can track and manage asset status through common changes and streamline common processes with pre-built process automated workflow templates. Altiris Client Management Suite 7.1 from Symantec manages, secures and troubleshoots systems with greater efficiency on more platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux and virtual desktop environments. The suite automates time-consuming and redundant tasks to minimize efforts and costs associated with deploying, patching, supporting client systems and software.”


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Further Information

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. Whiggy says:

    Just a couple of points, as an Altiris geek and SCS for the product: 1) each SMP can handle up to 20,000 managed end points as well as unlimited fixed assets and 2) out of the box, it is nothing to write home about, but it’s capability for customization is as far as your imagination can take you and once the groundwork is laid, it becomes daily maintenance – as with any other system.

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